College approaches reaffirmation of Middle States accreditation

By Sophie Foster

News Co-Editor

Washington College will be undertaking the process of reaffirming its accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an act last conducted in 2014.

Middle States, an independent accreditor of higher learning institutions, is recognized by the United States Department of Education as an evaluator of said institutions.

According to President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski, Chief of Staff and Vice President for Planning and Policy Victor Sensenig will be overseeing this matter.

“Middle States has rigorous and comprehensive standards of educational quality that must be met by its members,” Sensenig said. “For the College, being accredited by Middle States means that we hold ourselves to the highest standard of educational excellence.”

According to Sensenig, maintaining accreditation requires the completion of a self-study every eight years, followed by visitation from peer institutions’ evaluators. This visitation will transpire during the spring semester of 2024, so the College has been developing its self-study over the course of the past year.

There are seven required standards of Middle States accreditation, and WC’s self-study contains a chapter for each of them.

“A working group of 7-8 faculty and staff members are focusing on each chapter,” Sensenig said. “I’m leading the Standard 7 group, and we also have a [Board of Visitors and Governors] member and the [Student Government Association] president in our working group. Although this Self-Study is a requirement for accreditation, we also treat it as an opportunity to take a look at ourselves and find places to make improvements.”

Sensenig identifies this process and “lengthy and intense,” breaking down its steps into a clear, concise outline spread out over the course of two years.

During the spring semester of 2022, a steering committee and subsequent working groups formed and drafted the self-study design; then, during the fall semester, these working groups submitted the first drafts of their chapters.

Looking ahead, the BVG will review the first draft of the self-study in February. This review will introduce a revision and finalization process that will culminate in the working groups’ final drafts being submitted at the end of April, followed by the assembly of the final self-study report edited by the steering committee and its editors over the summer.

Next year, this self-study will be made available to and circulated among the campus community, including senior staff and the BVG, who will approve its final iteration to be submitted to Middle States in the winter months. The fall semester of 2023 will also bring the primary visit from the evaluation team chair. The full evaluation team will visit and report to WC during the spring semester of 2024, which will lead to Middle States action in the summer and fall of that year.

This process, though involved, is one the College has practiced for several decades. According to Sensenig, “Middle States was created in 1919, and WC was first accredited by the Commission in 1925.”

Presently, the College is approved by Middle States to offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as to provide distance education programs. The last partial review was conducted on March 4, 2021, when a Mid-Point Peer Review determined the College was functioning as needed.

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