Castleton students should not be surprised if they notice random visitors wandering around campus on Nov. 7 or Nov. 8. There will be eight visitors and they will have access to essentially anywhere on campus.
Additionally, they have the ability to ask anyone about anything they want regarding the college.
“We expect them to go wherever they want,” said Academic Dean Joe Mark. “They have been given an ID card so they can go to Huden, Fireside … to the library, wherever. When I have been on visiting teams myself, we did those things. We want to make sure we are getting an honest reflection of the school.”
These random people shouldn’t frighten anyone though. Continued on page 6 Continued from page 1..
They are a committee comprised of people from New England representing the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
They are here to determine if CSC is worthy of accreditation.
Colleges must be re-accredited at least every ten years, and 2011 marks the year for a visit from the review team.
For the past two years, Castleton faculty, staff and students have been evaluating themselves based on 11 very specific standards of accreditation. The process began in fall of 2009, when 11 committees were formed.
Each committee had one administrator, a couple faculty and staff members and at least one student. They were assigned to evaluate the school based on their assigned standard and concluded with a 100-page report detailing Castleton’s results.
Without accreditation, Mark said, colleges and therefore students, are ineligible to receive any federal financial aid including Pell-grants and Stafford loans, Mark said.
And with 80 percent of students at Castleton receiving federal aid, this is a pretty big deal, he said.
He said starting on Nov. 6, Castleton will be evaluated on “the accuracy and thoroughness of our self-study” determining “how well Castleton measures up against CIHE’s 11 Standards.”
“It’s all about the standards, initially, and then the self study project, and then this visit,” said Mark.
Professor John Kimmel helped co-chair the evaluation for the second time. He said he is very pleased with the way this study went compared to the last one and said there may only be minor concerns that the team might have.
“They are always going to be interested in assessment, as in giving the students what they need. I think we are doing a good job with that, but they are always going to want more — which they should,” said Kimmel.
Additionally, he mentioned the team may be interested in the debt that the school has accumulated due to the new stadium and buildings, and the enrollment of out of state students. He noted however that the school is already addressing these issues and working to fix them.
“They will have concerns, but they are not necessarily negative, and we know about them,” he said.
After the team’s visit, members will produce their own report, and team leader and MCLA President Grant will send back another report.
It is not until the report has been sent to the commission, essentially a bunch of citizens in higher education in New England, that college officials can comment on the report in a document called the “rejoinder”
The commission will then, for the final step, read everything in the self-report, the actual report and the rejoinder — and make the decision.
“What I expect they will say is “we are pleased to inform you that you have been reaccredited— and here are some conclusions we have made,” said Mark.
While both Kimmel and Mark are optimistic, they said it is still important that students are aware of what is going on. After all, their federal aid does depend on a positive outcome of this process, they said.
Asked what students should be most aware of regarding the re-accreditation process, Mark said “Two things: That it is happening, and that it is important. Because it really does fundamentally affect their lives… we need it to continue receiving financial aid.”