Penn is engaging in a self-study as a part of its 2024 accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Every eight years, MSCHE requires institutions to engage in a self-study to evaluate whether they meet the commission’s standards for accreditation. The theme of Penn’s ongoing self-study is “Inclusively and Effectively Educating the Whole Person for the 21st Century.”
MSCHE’s role as an institutional accreditor is to evaluate all aspects of a university’s programs and services holistically. The last visit and self-study to reaffirm Penn’s status occurred in 2014, following a ten-year evaluation period that began in 2004.
This year, the self-study process is organized into seven working groups and an operations group, MSCHE Self-Study Project Manager Billie McGrane wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Each group focuses on a different aspect of Penn’s educational activities or student services related to the self-study’s overall theme.
“We arrived at the thematic focus of our Self-Study … through a consultative process focused on institutional priorities during the summer and early fall 2021 with academic leaders and councils, as well as faculty, staff, and students,” McGrane wrote.
Working group topics include Course-Cased Inclusive Teaching, Research, Supporting Personal Development, Community Engagement/Connecting with Impact, and Acting Responsibly and Learning to Care for Oneself and Others. The working groups met regularly from spring 2022 to spring 2023. Over 130 faculty, staff, and students from across Penn’s 12 schools participated in the process, according to McGrane.
A Steering Committee, chaired by Vice Provost for Education Karen Detlefsen, has overseen the self-study process and worked on writing the report over the past year. In addition to administrators, the Committee is composed of working group chairs who represent a wide range of schools, including the School of Nursing, the Wharton School, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Following the self-study, the second part of the MSCHE evaluation process will involve an on-site visit conducted by a team of peer evaluators. Over the span of four days, the team will assess whether Penn meets accreditation standards, policies and procedures, and certain federal regulatory requirements. Team members will hold on-campus interviews and meetings to confirm information from the self-study report and gather additional perspectives.
On the final day, the team will provide an oral exit report indicating whether the University meets the MSCHE’s accreditation standard. It will also make recommendations for improvement and highlight any particular accomplishments.
The on-site visit that marks the end of the accreditation process is scheduled for spring 2024.