Johnson State College’s re-accreditation work began in October 2013 when a core re-accreditation team (composed of Joe Farara, Faculty Librarian, then-President Barbara E. Murphy, Greg Petrics, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Daniel Regan, Dean of Academic Affairs at the time) began to lay the groundwork for the current self-study. Preparations for the self-study and comprehensive evaluation began in earnest during February 2014. At that point in our accreditation cycle, the site visit for Johnson State College was scheduled for November 2015. The steering group invited individuals to serve as “leads” for committees charged with addressing each of the standards in place at the time.
The self-study process began in a highly participatory manner. Each person responded positively to the invitation to serve as lead; and the responses from those they invited to join them on a standards committee were similarly enthusiastic. Responsibilities of each team lead were to:
Attend an organizational and informational meeting with the steering group, together with the leads of the other standards committees, and meet individually with steering group members, as necessary; Compose a small committee to address the assigned standard; Review the relevant standard; Work with the committee toward the main points the group expected to make in their contri- bution to the self-study; List as bullets those main points; List the evidence the committee already had, as well as the evidence members desired, to support their assertions.
In proposing team leads and members, one goal was to spread rather than unduly concentrate responsibilities. Another goal was to mix JSC veterans with newer voices. The team “leads” with their positions at the time and their assignments were: Barbara Murphy, President (Mission and Purposes); Dave Bergh, Dean of Students (Planning and Evaluation); Barbara Murphy and Tyrone Shaw, chair, Faculty Assembly (Organization and Governance); Daniel Regan, Dean of Academic Affairs (The Academic Program); Sharon Twigg, chair, Writing and Literature Department (Faculty); Michele Whitmore, Associate Dean of Students (Students); Joe Farara, Faculty Librarian (Library and Other Information Resources); Sharron Scott, Dean of Administration (Physical and Technological Resources); Toby Stewart, Controller (Financial Resources); Deborah Bouton, Director of Communications and Marketing (Public Disclosure); Ken Leslie, professor, Fine and Performing Arts; Doug Eastman, Registrar, and Greg Petrics, assistant professor, Mathematics (Data First forms). 13
Soon thereafter, several circumstances intervened to modify our original timeline. After President Murphy announced her intention to retire, we sought a one-year postponement of our comprehensive evaluation. The Commission approved this request in September 2014 because of the upcoming presidential transition and the need for the college community to focus on that important change. The one-year delay, from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, also allowed us to benefit from the participation of our new president, Dr. Elaine C. Collins, in the college-wide effort. We were also pleased that Dr. Cynthia E. Huggins was willing to continue as our team chair in 2016.
NEASC preparation continued to be a focus of the 2014-2015 academic year, President Murphy’s final one; but instead of writing our self-study, the year was devoted to gathering and developing evidence. In July 2015, when President Collins arrived to lead the Johnson State community, sharpening our institutional identity became an important college priority and, in the 2015-2016 academic year, resulted in Johnson State’s successful application for membership to the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). By January 2016 a new set of standards had supplanted the set with which we had begun our re-accreditation work; and we decided to write our self-study report to the new standards. (Following the dictum “data first,” the forms accompanying the self-study sections derive from the older standards, as we began using the data in them when re-accreditation work first began. According to the Commission, “Institutions with evaluations or reports due in Fall 2016 may use the 2011 versions of the forms…”)
Also during 2015-2016 we worked hard to regain any steam lost on the self-study. In doing so we relied upon, but significantly updated and supplemented, the original contributions from committees whose members had been charged with addressing the “old” standards. An advanced draft of the self-study went to faculty, staff and students in August, by which time the Chancellor’s proposal to unify Johnson State and Lyndon State Colleges had appeared. Circulation of the draft in late summer included opportunities for commentary and feedback. Before then, a sizable and diverse group of JSCers had attended an open meeting during the June visit to campus of President Huggins. A series of three campus meetings is planned for September and October to encourage discussion of the accreditation process, the self-study, the November team visit, and the effect of the unification proposal on Johnson State’s re-accreditation. We hope that these opportunities will further engage faculty, staff and students in the comprehensive evaluation.