By Rebecca Osowski – Features Editor
On October 21, Provost Eric Turner announced in an email to the Lasell community that the school is due for its 10 year reaccreditation, courtesy of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The review is scheduled for November 6 to 9, 2022, while final action will take place in 2023.
According to the email, “accreditation is a process of peer review based on standards set by the higher education community. Colleges and universities are evaluated on how well they meet these standards, in light of their mission.”
Members of the community, including administrators, undergraduate, graduate students, faculty, staff, villagers, and advisory board members will evaluate the academic plan.
The self-study will address strengths and weaknesses in the school’s mission, explain how it plans to improve and tackle its challenges, and depict the vision of the future according to nine standards based on governance, academics, campus life, resources, and other priorities and values held by Lasell.
The self-study will address the standards, how they are met, include evidence to show how those conclusions were made and predict how the school will continue these things in the future, and if applicable, how it will improve.
“There is nothing offhand that I can think of that [NECHE] would not want to know about, because everything we do relates to educating students in one way, shape, or form,” Turner said.
Following the submission and review of the self study to NECHE, members of NECHE, administrators and an institution’s president will visit campus and review Lasell’s evaluation.
Not only is the institution being judged on the evaluation of these standards, but also how honest the school is in the reflection process. “[Reaccreditation] is important because it goes to the very essence of who we are and why we exist… it is about educating students, preparing students for the world,” Turner said.
Despite the re-accreditation process happening every 10 years, Lasell is actively assessing itself. Turner said the re-accreditation process is not a stand-alone project but rather a continuous process of self-assessment and evaluation happening through surveys, course evaluations, performance evaluations of faculty and staff, and more.
“We are constantly looking at ourselves, assessing who we are, making changes, evolving, to the benefit of our constituents, our students,” Turner said.
For example, the Campus Climate Survey and Student Satisfaction Survey, both sent out earlier in the semester, will be used as input in this year’s self-study to help show how the community meets the nine standards. NECHE updated their standards in January to include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and other large themes and expects institutions to capture them in their self-survey and assessment.
In addition to the 10-year reaccreditation process, there is also a smaller process that happens every five years and the submission of annual reports on areas of focus mutually agreed on by the commission and the institution.
“I’m excited about doing this,” Turner said. “The beauty of having to do this detailed self-study every 10 years is it actually requires us to step back from all of the things we are doing…and say ‘are they doing for us what they should be?’”
“That kind of detailed introspection and thought is very healthy and that is why I look forward to this. I don’t want people to look at it as a chore but to embrace it as a healthy exercise,” said Turner.