The University of Maryland, College Park is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), under the authority of the U.S. Department of Education. In late spring of 2005 the University began preparation of the comprehensive self-study required for its decennial accreditation review. The review process included a preliminary site visit in November, 2006, and a final site visit by the full evaluation team on March 4-7, 2007. The final report of the evaluation team was received by the University on March 29, 2007. It appears below, along with explanatory information, a description of some aspects of the review process, and a complete set of the materials that constituted the self-study. The chair of the evaluation team presented a specific recommendation concerning the continuation of the University's accreditation to MSCHE at its meeting on June 7, 2007. On June 28, 2007, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted to reaffirm accreditation. The Statement of Accreditation Status provides information about the University and MSCHE and is publicly available on the MSCHE website.
In its final report, the evaluation team concluded that the University meets each of the fourteen standards for accreditation. The report includes 21 suggestions for improvement. It includes no recommendations and no requirements for change.
Overview: For an outline of the significance of the accreditation process and of its structure see A Brief Primer on Middle States Reviews. A full description of the current requirements for accreditation are in the MSCHE publication Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education (Twelfth Edition, 2006). This document describes fourteen standards that must be satisfied in order for an institution to be accredited. (See also a short summary of these standards.) Details concerning the preparation of a self-study and the management of a site visit are in the MSCHE publication Team Visits: Conducting and Hosting an Evaluation Visit (First Edition, 2006.)
Self-Study Design: A detailed plan for the format and content of the University's required self-study was presented to the Middle States Association in late November, 2005, and was approved the following month.
Organizing Committee and Working Groups: The Self-Study Design also specified the membership of the committees and working groups responsible for its implementation.
Documentation Review: As specified in the approved design, the University assembled documents and "roadmaps" through these documents to demonstrate compliance with six of the fourteen standards for accreditation and with a portion of a seventh. These roadmaps contain links to the corresponding documents.
Visit of the Generalist Evaluators: On November 16 and 17, 2006, two generalist reviewers visited the University to evaluate the documentation and associated roadmaps offered to demonstrate compliance with these standards. The reviewers were Dr. Mark McNamee, Provost at Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University and Dr. Sally Mason, Provost at Purdue University. Their Report was received in December. The assessment of the generalist reviewers was that the University met all the standards that they reviewed. The report did include a number of questions and concerns, and the University prepared a set of brief responses to them. An unofficial annotated version of the report includes links to the University responses to all the issues raised.
Evaluation Team: The Middle States Association appointed an evaluation team to examine the complete self-study and to visit the University for a thorough assessment of compliance with all the accreditation standards. Dr. Larry Faulkner, team chair, visited the University along with the generalist evaluators in order to confirm arrangements for the subsequent team visit. Among the materials to be included in the complete self-study were the roadmaps and documents, the generalists evaluators' report with the University's response, a formal self-study report, and certain specified additional documents.
Self-Study Report: The University prepared a self-study report to address those accreditation standards not addressed through documentation. As specified in the approved self-study design, this report was structured to address two special topics. Topic A, Institutional Assessment, Planning, and Resource Allocation, addressed standards 2, 3, and 7. Topic B, Educational Offerings and Effectiveness, addressed standards 11, 12, 13, and 14, as well as portions of standard 10. Material addressing topic A was put together in a draft report by a working group convened for the purpose, and then further refined by the self-study working group with the advice of many other individuals. Material addressing topic B was put together by several working groups convened for the purpose and similarly refined. The full report included 276 appendices.
Materials Sent to the Evaluation Team: On January 27, 2007, the University sent the following materials to the evaluation team. All were sent in electronic format on a compact disc. Most were made available to the team online. Many were sent in hard copy as well.
Evaluation Team Visit: The evaluation team visited the University on March 4-7, 2007. Accompanying the team and participating in the visit was Janet Moye Cornick, Senior Education Policy Analyst for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Hard copies of documents and appendices were made available to the team. This included all the documents prepared for the generalist evaluators, all of the Self-Study report appendices, and a substantial number of additional documents that might be relevant. During the visit, team members interacted with at least 235 individual members of the University community during more than 40 formal and informal meetings. The master meeting schedule provides a mostly-accurate account of the team's activities over the four day visit.