Middle States Accreditation
Shippensburg University is periodically reviewed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), an accreditation body which “mandates that its member institutions meet rigorous and comprehensive standards.” Because the bar is set so high, once the process is completed successfully, Shippensburg can assuredly claim “Our students are well-served; society is well-served.”[i]
The accreditation process involves many stakeholders within the university, including administration, faculty, and students, engaging in conscious self-reflection. A committee made up of representatives from each of these areas examines the Middle States Standards for Accreditation, their Requirements of Affiliation, and relevant federal regulations. The group collects documentation and writes a Self-Study report demonstrating that Shippensburg is in full compliance with regulations and meets all of the relevant standards and requirements. Some of the issues the report will cover include: the quality of the education the university provides, how well we are achieving our previously established mission and goals (covered in the University Strategic Plan), and whether and how well all levels of the university are assessed on a regular basis. The completed report is then evaluated by a team of reviewers from MSCHE, to ensure that we are in fact meeting all of our goals in the way the self-study report claims we are. A successful evaluation results in renewed accreditation.
Ship is currently crafting its self-study, which will be complete by January 2019. As the protocol explains, “Our self-study, coinciding as it does with the launch of our new strategic plan, provides the opportunity for us to better know our university, to celebrate our achievements, and to identify those challenges that still lay before us. Our self-study will tell the story of the implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan through the lens of the MSCHE standards and requirements of accreditation. Our intended outcomes include:
- Demonstrating how Ship currently meets Middle States Standards for Accreditation, with a focus on how the standards align with our new strategic plan.
- Identifying current assessment practices to find challenges and opportunities and make recommendations for improvement in the collection, analysis, and use of assessment data as we strive to meet our goals and demonstrate our common values.
- Engaging in an open and honest self-appraisal process that engages members from all areas of the Ship community.
- Providing an accurate analysis of the university, including annual updates and reports, that can guide our new president through her transition to Shippensburg.
- Developing 3-5 self-recommended areas for improvement in the next eight years.
 Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation, 13th ed. (Philadelphia: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2014), v.