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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 2, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 41
Commission Reaffirms JHU Accreditation

Leadership praised for focusing on undergrad experience

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education at its most recent session acted to reaffirm the accreditation of Johns Hopkins, officially ending an intensive two-year process.

The commission's formal action was the culmination of a process that included its consideration of the final report of an evaluation team that visited Johns Hopkins in March for a series of formal and informal meetings with senior administration, faculty and students.

The 14-member site team visited JHU specifically to assess undergraduate programs as part of the university's reaccredidation process, which occurs every 10 years.

In its conclusions and recommendations, the evaluation team cited among Johns Hopkins' "significant accomplishments" the university's faculty excellence, commitment to improving the undergraduate experience and its breadth and quality of research opportunities.

The team wrote that the university's Commission on Undergraduate Education — charged in 2001 with the goal of re-envisioning the entire undergraduate experience at Johns Hopkins — had produced a "realistic, comprehensive and candid" roadmap for the university to follow. It applauded JHU's leadership at carrying out an ambitious undergraduate agenda and for having already implemented many of the recommendations specified in CUE's final report, which was issued in May 2003.

Related to research, the Middle States report said that the university's integration of independent and supervised research into the undergraduate curriculum is exceptionally well accepted and promoted and that the opportunities to engage in academic experiences and off-site study are "remarkable."

The Middle States evaluation team, chaired by Brown University President Ruth Simmons, comprised 14 senior administrators and faculty members at some of Johns Hopkins' peer institutions, including Yale, MIT, Stanford, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.

Paula Burger, vice provost for academic affairs and vice dean for undergraduate education for the School of Arts and Sciences, said that the site team was a distinguished group who understood many of the issues that Johns Hopkins is confronting.

"It is especially gratifying to have higher education leaders acknowledge our efforts in this way since they each have experience and perspective from other very distinguished institutions that also offer superior undergraduate programs," said Burger, who chaired the 16-member accreditation steering committee.

Individually, the university's academic divisions were evaluated on 14 standards that Middle States uses in its reaccreditation process. All standards were met or exceeded by each division.

The Middle States team also made suggestions for improvement, including the continuation of efforts to increase diversity among the student body and faculty, the improvement of the teacher evaluation processes and the strengthening of academic advising efforts. It also cited the need for sustained engagement with students for the collaborative development and improvement of student life.

The team also expressed concern about what it perceived to be serious problems of academic integrity and urged that aggressive action be taken to address the matter.

Burger said that each of the divisions has individuals who are responsible for undergraduate education and that they will "lead the charge" in following up on recommendations in their schools, just as they have on CUE proposals.

"Moreover, the deans of the five schools with undergraduate programs intend to continue to meet and thus sustain the conversation across the university," she said. "The commitment is there to ensure that undergraduate education remains a primary focus and that there is systematic monitoring of our progress in further enhancing this dimension of Johns Hopkins."

Burger said that the many people who contributed to the reaccreditation during these past two years should be commended for their efforts.

"A reaccreditation process is truly a team effort," she said. "The time and energy of many busy people were engaged, and the university owes a debt to those individual administrators, faculty, staff and students who participated in each division."

To view the Middle States Commission on Higher Education's final report, go to


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