King’s College and The University of Scranton have both been warned that their programs may not be meeting requirements to remain accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
While not mandatory, accreditation is widely viewed as proof of quality of a institution’s programs. It is often required if a school looks to receive government subsidies, and is used by many schools in deciding whether or not to accept academic credits earned at another institution.
In written statements, both school stressed they are still fully accredited, that they met all other standards and that they take the warnings seriously and are working to come back into compliance.
The University of Scranton has been accredited since 1927, according to the Middle State Commission’s website, while King’s has been accredited since 1955. Both are undergoing reviews this year.
Accreditation is a complex process that looks at a wide range of issues at an institution, but it boils down to 14 standards schools must meet.
In that review process, the University of Scranton was warned in March “that its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning),” according to a “public disclosure statement” posted on the Commission’s website.
King’s was warned last month “that its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment) and Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning).”
King’s College noted the accreditation process “affirmed the many significant areas of strength and success” that King’s College enjoys.
For example, Middle States praised the hard working nature of the King’s community, its commitment to the mission of the college and the many successes and improvements that have taken place at King’s in recent years.
“Middle States also identified a need for the College to continue improving its assessment processes. While the College is committed to continually improving itself in all areas, it is especially focused on improving its assessment processes. In fact, King’s has already taken action to improve its processes and to provide the necessary assessment-related information to Middle States.”
The University of Scranton statement said the institution “has embraced the challenge put to us through this warning and, through a strong and collaborative approach, has made excellent progress in our response to Middle States. We are confident that all of the activities in which we are engaged, and those that we will undertake this summer and beyond, will strengthen the cycle and culture of assessment at the University.”
Both schools have time to show they have achieved compliance. King’s must submit a report by March 1, 2015. The University of Scranton must do so by Sept. 1 of this year.
The Middle States Commission is a regional accrediting organization that covers institutions in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. The accreditation process is done in 10-year cycles, according to the Commission’s website, “beginning with a self-study and on-site evaluation visit, and followed by a Periodic Review Report five years later.”
On site visits are peer-reviews, meaning the people scrutinizing a college or university in person work at another institution of higher education.
The 14 standards cover: Missions and goals; planning, resource allocation and institutional renewal; institutional resources; leadership and governance; administration; integrity; institutional assessment; student admissions and retention; student support services; faculty; educational offerings; general education; related educational activities; and assessment of student learning.
This isn’t the first time area institutions of higher learning hit bumps in the accreditation arena.
Marywood University’s nursing program was denied accreditation in 2013 by a different organization, The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission. The school appealed the denial, remaining accredited during the appeal. In August the organization —which had renamed itself the Accreditation Commission of Education in Nursing — granted accreditation for 12 months.
The Commission visited the campus for a review this spring, and Marywood is awaiting a decision, Marywood Public Relations Coordinator Sherry Frable said, adding that the review seemed to go “very well.”
Luzerne County Community College was put on probation by the Middle States Commission in June of 2011. The Commission said the college had failed to show compliance with accreditation standards in four areas: Administration, institutional assessment, general education and assessment of student learning.
The college took extensive steps to correct the problems, and probation was lifted a year later.