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Middle States Re-accreditation Update: "Be not afraid of greatness [through difference]"

"Be not afraid of greatness [through difference]”                                

     -Malvolio, “Twelfth Night”

In Act II of “Troilus and Cressida,” surely one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, Cressida muses that “Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing.”  While Cressida may have been musing about the nature of love, and wooing in particular, we can, I think, also apply this maxim to Middle States (bear with me here).  Yes, we’ll have a fine finished product in our self-study, and hopefully be reaccredited with flying colors (orange and brown no doubt), but the real value to the institute in this whole two-year process is that we are not just proving to Middle States that we are meeting the standards for accreditation, but that we are identifying ways that RIT can improve above and beyond what is simply expected for re-accreditation.  I think that there tends to be a conception that accreditation and compliance is an rigmarole “That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more: it is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”  But I’m here to tell you that that’s not true.  Well maybe it’s true for compliance, but that’s another blog entirely.  I hope to convince you in the following paragraphs that this self-study process is a real value-added for the university, and not just “speak[ing] an infinite deal of nothing.”

Your co-chairs (Anne Wahl and myself), together with your dedicated steering committee, has seen fit not just to limit ourselves to ensuring that we meet the seven standards of accreditation, but that we do a thorough analysis of institutional priorities, identifying areas where we are doing well, and areas in which there is room for improvement.  In order to do this in as efficient matter as possible, we have gone through the strategic plan with a fine toothed comb and pulled out a number of “tier 1” priorities—priorities, in other words, that will be addressed in the short term and that have been identified as either attainable in the here and now, or mission-critical to the institution.  We have then used those tier 1 priorities to construct a number of research questions that we have asked our seven working groups to delve into.  We believe that through these research questions, along with the research that will be done to demonstrate compliance with the seven standards of accreditation, RIT will have a clear picture of what it needs to do to take the next steps towards world domination.  Sorry, I mean, of course, global engagement, informed citizenship, and multivariate literacy.

This will not be easy work.  As the bard tells us: “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces.”  But we’ve put together a really stellar team of working group members who we are confident will lead us forth into this “brave new world.”  We’ve completed our self-study design, which was lauded by Middle States as a model of excellence, we’ve kicked off this season of self-study, and now we’re ready to go.  As Shakespeare advises, “See first that the design is wise and just; that ascertained, pursue it resolutely.”  Resolute we shall be, and merry.

And now here’s where you come in.  Everyone on this campus has some sort of expertise to contribute to at least one of these research questions.  We would like to invite you to weigh in on any of these questions as you see fit.  You could tell us where to look for answers to these questions; you could propose possible starting points, or even answers to any of the questions, or you can simply ask more questions.  It’s my experience that any really good research project raises as may questions as it answers, and this will no doubt be true of the self-study process. Thanks for your willingness to either engage directly or simply to support us, and have a great fall semester.  

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Research Questions

Working Group 1

How effective is RIT, as a “student-centric” university, at preparing graduates for successful careers in a global society? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 Mission and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success- Difference Maker I.2)

To what extent do opportunities exist to enhance collaborative and interdisciplinary academic programs, research, and partnerships across the University? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Mission and Dimension Two: The Student-Centered Research University - Difference Maker II.1).

Working Group 2

How do existing policies, practices, and procedures demonstrate RIT’s ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence for faculty, staff and students?
(Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension Three: Leveraging Difference - Difference Maker III.7)

To what degree is RIT positioned to satisfy the “affordability goal?” (Linked to Strategic Plan Dimension Four: Affordability and Return on Investment)

Working Group 3

To what degree is RIT positioned to develop T-shaped graduates with the disciplinary depth and breadth across multiple skills and competencies? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success - Difference Maker I.1)

Where do opportunities exist to expand and strengthen experiential learning experiences for all students? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success – Difference Maker I.1)

Working Group 4

To what degree do existing policies, procedures, practices, and conditions support on-time degree completion as defined by the various degree programs at RIT and given RIT’s emphasis on experiential learning? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success - Difference Maker I.7)

To what extent are the University’s recruitment and retention efforts, and planned efforts, meeting institutional enrollment goals? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success - Difference Maker I.7 and Dimension Three: Leveraging Difference - Difference Maker III.5)

Working Group 5

In what way does the assessment of student learning provide evidence that students have achieved RIT learning outcomes? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success - Difference Maker I.4)

To what extent does RIT use assessment results for the improvement of educational effectiveness consistent with the mission? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension One: Career Education and Student Success - Difference Maker I.4)

Working Group 6

To what degree are the University’s budgeting and resource allocation models data-driven and based on and guided by strategic planning, priorities, and ongoing institutional demands?

To what extent does RIT leverage educational technology to improve access, maintain academic quality, and achieve desired learning outcomes while balancing costs? (Linked to Strategic Plan 2015 and Dimension Four: Affordability, Value and Return on Investment - Difference Maker 4.2)

Working Group 7

What evidence exists that the university has been successful in the implementation and transparency of the University’s mission, vision and goals? 
(Linked to RIT Strategic Plan/Difference Makers)

Is RIT’s system of shared governance working effectively to benefit the constituencies that it serves? (Linked to RIT Policies B01, B02, B03, and B04). 

Dr. Michael Laver