CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

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Introduction

Central Connecticut State University began preparing for its decennial reaccreditation by NEASC in fall 2006, when President Miller appointed Provost Lovitt to oversee the reaccreditation process. In turn, the Provost enlisted the assistance of Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Paulette Lemma, to manage the NEASC process and our preparations for the site visit of the NEASC Review Team in October 2008. To become familiar with the reaccreditation process, the Provost, Dr. Lemma, and a member of the Executive Committee attended a two-day NEASC orientation conference in fall 2006. During the fall, the Provost appointed the NEASC Steering Committee, which consisted of Executive Committee members, the President of the Faculty Senate, and Dr. Lemma; the President of the University served as an ex officio member. In consultation with the Steering Committee, the Provost identified and invited members of the Standards committees. In all, 17 NEASC Standards committees were established: one for each of ten Standards, one for each of the five sections of Standard Four: The Academic Program, and one for each of the two sections of Standard Five: The Faculty. Each of the 17 committees comprised administrators, teaching faculty, administrative faculty, and staff, plus one or more graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, members of the Board of Trustees served on two Standards committees (Mission and Purpose and Organization and Governance). In all, 125 individuals served on the NEASC Standards committees.

 In February 2007, Provost Lovitt made a presentation to the Faculty Senate about the NEASC reaccreditation process and plans for preparing the Self Study. Also in February, the Steering Committee held its first meeting to review the entire NEASC process and the timetable of events leading up to the Review Team’s site visit in October 2008. In March 2007, a general meeting of all Steering and Standards committee members was convened to introduce the NEASC process and procedures and to clarify the role of each Standards committee. At that meeting, committees were tasked with developing an action plan and a timetable for their respective charges, to be completed in April 2007. The first NEASC Town Meeting was held in March 2007, during which information about the NEASC process was shared and discussed with the campus community. 

In spring 2007, Dr. Lemma hired a University Assistant to support the NEASC reaccreditation process, with responsibility for keeping records of meetings and for establishing and maintaining a dedicated NEASC Web page, which would serve as the locus of information for the campus community about the NEASC project and as a repository for drafts of the Self Study and for electronic documents and appendices. The University Assistant was also responsible for equipping and maintaining the Documen-tation Room, which was located in the CCSU Library. Throughout spring 2007, the Standards committees became familiar with their assigned standards, and they reviewed previous NEASC reports to identify areas of concern applicable to their respective standards and to determine whether actions had been taken to address those concerns. The Standards committees were also involved in spring 2007 in collecting documentation for the “Description” section of their respective standards. The spring semester concluded with a campus visit by Dr. Peggy Maki, who presented insights into the NEASC reaccreditation process to the campus community and who met with selected members of the Standards committees to discuss plans for drafting the Self Study. The Steering Committee met regularly throughout spring 2007 to discuss progress by each of the Standards committees and to refine plans for the Self Study.

During the summer of 2007, designated members of each Standards committee received support to prepare drafts of the “Description” section of their respective Standards. Instructions called for each Standard to be broken down sentence by sentence to ensure that every statement in each Standard was addressed. The drafts of the detailed “Description” section of each Standard were completed in early fall 2007 and posted on the NEASC Web page, where they were available for review by the entire campus community; visitors to the Web page had the opportunity to send comments and suggestions to the NEASC University Assistant. A second Town Meeting was held in October 2007 to review highlights of the Self Study’s Description sections and to invite feedback. Standards committees spent the fall 2007 semester conducting research for the Appraisal section of their Standards. This research involved interviews, focus groups, and surveys, as well as a review of information from previous research (e.g., NSSE, Accountability Reports, CIRP, etc.). Also, in January 2008, an opinion survey was distributed to participants at the third Town Meeting, which yielded insights specifically keyed to each Standard. Plans originally called for developing and administering our own Web-based survey to collect university-wide input for the “Appraisal” sections, but the decision was made to administer the Noel-Levitz employee climate survey instead, at the request of the Faculty Senate.  Each Standards committee was invited to submit questions to include on the climate survey, many of which were incorporated.  Drafts of the Appraisal sections, which included data from the Noel-Levitz survey, were completed in April 2008 and posted on the NEASC Web page for review.  Using the findings from the Appraisal sections, the Standards committees then developed drafts of the “Projections” section, which were completed in June 2008.

The Provost devoted the month of June to consolidating and editing a draft of the complete Self Study, which he delivered to a team of five readers at the beginning of July. The readers included the University President, the incoming President of the Faculty Senate, the Public Relations Officer, the Director of Assessment and Institutional Research, and Dr. Lemma.  While the five readers reviewed the Self Study, Dr. Lovitt drafted the Preface and Overview. The Provost spent the first two weeks of August incorporating suggestions from the five readers and revising the Self Study, which was mailed to NEASC headquarters for a preliminary review in mid-August.

In late August, CCSU issued a number of public announcements and news releases concerning the imminent NEASC site visit and invited feedback from the external community. Throughout fall 2008, the Steering Committee implemented a marketing campaign to heighten awareness and excitement on campus concerning the anticipated visit of the review team in October 2008. A final Town Meeting was scheduled for September 2008 to review highlights of the Self Study and to discuss plans for moving forward with our projections.

The preparation of the NEASC Self Study took place at a strategically opportune moment in our university’s history. With a relatively new president and a new administrative team of vice presidents and chief officers, the Self Study enabled the university to take stock of itself and to chart a course for its immediate future. Coupled with the recent identification of CCSU’s four areas of distinctiveness: international education, workforce and State economic development, community engagement, and interdisciplinary and cross-curricular initiatives, the appraisal sections of the Self Study provided the critical evaluation needed to set institutional priorities, and we made efforts to align the Self Study’s projections with the goals and objectives in our emerging Strategic Plan, which was approved in spring 2008. 
 

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