Administration submits follow-up report after 2017 Middle States accreditation


Rachel Looker, Editor-in-Chief

Marywood administrators submitted a follow-up report today required by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The university met all 14 standards for accreditation and was approved by the Middle States Commission last year to remain an accredited university for the next eight years. The commission required Marywood to submit a follow-up report due on Dec. 1, 2017.

According to Middle States’ guidelines on follow-up reports and visits, “the Commission may request follow-up as part of its action to ensure continued compliance with accreditation standards and requirements of affiliation or to provide more information to keep the Commission informed of institutional progress.”

There are four different types of follow-up reports a university may be asked to complete upon accreditation. Vice President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness Kathleen Ruthkosky said Marywood is completing the Middle States monitoring report.

Middle States may request a monitoring report if an organization has concerns about “ongoing compliance with one or more of the requirements of affiliation or standards for accreditation,” according to its website.

Ruthkosky said there are four main areas included in Marywood’s follow-up report. These areas include strategic planning, budgeting, institutional assessment and enrollment management.

She added that Middle States visited Marywood in November 2016, soon after Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico IHM, Ed. D, stepped into the role as president. It was also around the time the university was completing the Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) process, which analyzed the amount of resources Marywood allocates to programs. Additionally, Marywood had just filled the administrative positions of provost and vice president of business affairs.

Ruthkosky described how Marywood was “at a new place” when the team visited last year.

“I think it’s that we had so many things happening at that same time that they [the Middle States Commission] wanted to ensure we’re continuing to make progress as we move forward because there were a lot of changes in the last year,” said Ruthkosky.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and previous co-chair of the Middle States self-study Dr. Frances Zauhar said the Middle States visit “came at the end of a couple of very difficult years at Marywood.”

Ruthkosky said information in the report includes a copy of Marywood’s operational plan, a four-year strategic plan for enrollment management, progress made on core curriculum revisions and a projected budget for the next three years. Zauhar added that the commission wanted to see Marywood had a financial plan, an operative plan and strategic plan that connected together.

After completing the self-study for Middle States last year, Zauhar said the report revealed areas where Marywood could improve.

“We needed to look at our financial affairs differently. We needed to look at long-range planning differently. We needed to continue to pay attention,” said Zauhar.

She said when Middle States affirmed Marywood’s accreditation, the commission said “ we affirm it without conditions, but we want a follow-up report that tells us what [Marywood] has been doing.”

Ruthkosky said monitoring reports are a way for the Middle States Commission to make sure the university is making progress on initiatives seen during their visit. She said the report will show the commission improvements made to the things that were in stages when they visited.

With all Middle States accreditations, institutions are required to submit a midterm review halfway between their accreditation period, Ruthkosky said. This means Marywood will be required to submit a review in four years, halfway between the eight-year accreditation.

However, she said the commission may ask Marywood for another progress report before that.

“When they accept our monitoring report, they can ask for another progress report in a year or they can wait for our four-year report,” she said.

Ruthkosky said she believes Marywood has improved in the four areas of the report.

“I think the monitoring report shows that Marywood has made good progress over this past year,” she said.

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