NCA reaccreditation team to visit campus next weekMembers of the University community are invited to an open meeting with representatives of a visiting accreditation team from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools from 3 to 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, in Swift Commons.
The open session is part of a three-day campus visit by the evaluation team, which is charged with reviewing the University's academic and administrative activities. The University is reaccredited every 10 years. The University was a founding member of the North Central Association when it was created in 1895.
During its visit, the evaluation team will meet with numerous faculty members, deans, administrators, students, trustees and other members of the University community. The evaluation team is composed of faculty members and administrators at other universities and is chaired by Steven Beering, president of Purdue University.
"The visit of the site team is a valuable learning opportunity for the University. We can derive considerable benefit from the observations of a team of knowledgeable and accomplished educators from other institutions," President Sonnenschein said.
Voluntary accreditation of academic institutions, as carried out by such accrediting bodies as the North Central Association, is a uniquely American process. When accrediting an institution as a whole, the accrediting body reviews the academic programs of the institution as well as its governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, student academic achievement, facilities and capital resources, institutional effectiveness and relationships with constituencies outside the institution. In addition to institutional accreditation, many academic units, such as the University's professional schools, are reaccredited on a more frequent basis.
"Preparing for the accreditation process is a worthwhile exercise in itself," Sonnenschein said. "It offers departments, divisions and the institution as a whole the occasion to take stock of progress over the past decade and to evaluate which areas could benefit from further strengthening."
Major developments at the University in the past 10 years include:
* an increase in College enrollment, from 2,977 in 1985-86 to 3,478 in 1994-95, accompanied by improved student-life facilities and a still-in-progress curriculum review.
* the establishment in 1987 of the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, transforming a degree-granting committee into a full-fledged professional school. Since 1985, the number of master's students in public policy studies has doubled and the number of Ph.D. students has quintupled.
* the inauguration of several new academic and research programs, including the Chicago Humanities Institute; the degree-granting Committee on Jewish Studies; the executive M.B.A. program in Barcelona, Spain; the master of liberal arts program offered through the Center for Continuing Studies; the master of arts in humanities program in Japan; and the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. Other academic areas that have expanded greatly during this decade include cinema and media studies, constitutional studies in Eastern Europe, international peace and security studies, health studies and health administration.
* an increase in the number of faculty members from 1,156 in 1985-86 to 1,257 in 1994-95. Most of this 8.8 percent growth occurred in the clinical areas of the Biological Sciences Division and in the professional schools. The number of women and minority faculty members has also increased.
* the establishment in 1989 of the permanent Council on Teaching, composed of faculty members from across the University, to review teaching at all levels of the University and make recommendations for change to the Provost.
* the construction of new facilities for teaching and research, including the University of Chicago Downtown Center, the Kersten Physics Teaching Center and the Biological Sciences Learning Center and Jules F. Knapp Medical Research Center Complex. Significant building renovations were carried out in Kent Chemical Laboratory, Ryerson Physical Laboratory, the Zoology Building and the Erman Biology Center. Construction is currently under way on the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine.
Faculty and staff committees to prepare for the reaccreditation process were appointed in 1994 and began work on a self-study report for the North Central Association in 1995.
Members of the faculty committee are Mary Brinton, Associate Professor in Sociology; Ted Cohen, Professor in Philosophy; John Collins, Professor in the Divinity School; Edward Cook, Dean of Students in the University; John Craig, Associate Professor in Education; Julius Kirshner, Professor in History; Mary Mahowald, Professor in Obstetrics & Gynecology; J. Peter May, Professor in Mathematics; J. Mark Ramseyer, Professor in the Law School; Tina Rzepnicki, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration; Raaj Sah, Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Steven Sibener, Professor in Chemistry; and George Tiao, the W. Allen Wallis Professor in the Graduate School of Business.
Members of the staff committee are co-chairs Steven Poskanzer, Executive Assistant to the President, and Patricia Swanson, Associate Provost, plus Larry Arbeiter, Director of University Communications; Edwin Callahan, Assistant to the Vice President for Administration; Stephen Gabel, Assistant to the Provost; Ingrid Gould, Assistant Provost; Kineret Jaffe, Secretary of the Board of the Trustees; Susan Kastendiek, Secretary of the Faculties; Caren Skoulas, Director of the Budget Office; and Jeffrey Slovak, Deputy Dean of Students for Graduate Programs.
In addition to president Beering, the accreditation team includes Nancy Cantor, professor of psychology at Princeton; Henry Cramblett, the Pomerene Chair in Medicine at Ohio State University; Phillip Jones, associate provost and dean of students at the University of Iowa; Ulrich Langer, professor of French and chair of the department of French and Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Raymond Neff, vice president for information services at Case Western Reserve University; John Rau, dean of the school of business at Indiana University; Samuel Savin, associate dean of the college of arts and sciences and professor of geological sciences at Case Western Reserve University; and John Richard Sisson, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of Ohio State University. Cecilia Lopez, associate director of the NCA's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, is the association's representative for the process.