Preliminary Results Indicate FSU Remains Out of Middle States Compliance

Monitoring team finds Standard 12 met, Standard 7 not

An accreditation team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education informed the campus administration on Friday, March 31 of preliminary findings as a result of Frostburg State University’s renewed efforts to reach compliance with the commission. The visiting team found the university newly in compliance with the commission’s standard in regards to the General Education Program (GEP) yet still out of compliance in regards to the university’s Institutional Assessment. The team’s findings are not final until the formal commission decision, which will be reached in June of this year.

The March visit by the commission is a result of the university’s “warning” status granted in June of 2016. At the time, the commission determined that the university was in compliance with twelve of fourteen key “standards” utilized by the commission to determine accreditation. The university failed to demonstrate compliance with two standards: Standard 7, which concerns Institutional Assessment; and Standard 12, which encompasses the General Education Program. As a result, the university was placed on a “warning” status and was tasked with meeting the criteria of the standards before the March visitation by the commission. Intensive university efforts to assess and reevaluate both the GEP and how the institution utilizes assessment to determine learning outcomes resulted in a 50% success rate at the end of the March visit.

Throughout the commission’s visit, representatives met with key constituent groups of the university, including faculty, staff, and students. The goal of the commission throughout the visit was to verify the contents of the university’s monitoring report documentation that details campus-wide efforts to meet both standards 7 and 12. The representatives, while quite complimentary of the university’s efforts, cite lack of documentation of efforts to meet standard 7 as the primary reason for the standard not being met.

With the visitation over, the university now has an opportunity to respond to the preliminary findings of the team through correspondence with the commission. The visiting team specifically recommended to the university administration the inclusion of further documentation in this correspondence, considering the substantial (yet insufficiently documented) efforts to reach standard 7. In the event that the commission concurs with the March preliminary findings in June of 2017, the university will be asked to provide the necessary documentation to the commission by September of 2017, with the university remaining under a “warning” status in the meantime.

In a campus-wide announcement to the Frostburg State University community, President Ron Nowaczyk described the upcoming efforts to provide documentation and reach the final standard as falling “on the shoulders of myself, the VPs, and Institutional Research.” Nowaczyk refers to the university’s Office of Assessment and Institutional Research, directed by Sara-Beth Bittinger since 2015 after the departure of previous Director Robert Smith. The department falls under the jurisdiction of the University Provost, currently occupied by Interim Provost Dr. Ahmad Tootoonchi. Dr. Elizabeth Throop will join FSU as the institution’s new provost on July 1, 2017.

Frostburg State University currently remains accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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