The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is a “voluntary, non-governmental, membership association” that assures educational excellence through a robust process of self-study, site visits, and peer review. The membership of the Commission comprises well over 500 institutions from Maryland to New York and each of these institutions, in order to be accredited or re-accredited, must undergo what is called a decennial evaluation, an evaluation every ten years. This is a rather involved process that spans about two and a half years.
The first year is devoted to preparation, including putting together a Steering Committee and a series of “Working Groups,” designing a self-study, and developing research questions that the Working Groups will study and report on based on the MSCHE standards for accreditation.
The second year is devoted to the self-study, which is a rigorous examination of all aspects of the university, but mainly concentrating on the delivery of the university’s mission and the student learning experience. Out of the reports of the Working Groups will emerge an overall self study that the Steering Committee will submit to the MSCHE. It is important that the self study not only raise up areas of success, of which there are many at RIT, but also highlight areas in which RIT can improve.
The final year is devoted to a site visit in which a team of representatives from the MSCHE meets with all of the stakeholders at the university, examines the self-study report, and conducts a rigorous on-site evaluation of the institution. This site visit, combined with the self-study report, will lead to the MSCHE decision as to re-accreditation.
One outcome is a recommendation to re-accredit without any further action, one would be to re-accredit with stipulation, one would be probationary reaccreditation, and finally, the last would be to withdraw accreditation. RIT is, as you might imagine, in great shape institutionally, but an important part of this process is to identify areas of improvement, and so this is one reason why the re-accreditation process is so important.