Those most directly involved in the self-study process and preparation of this self-study report sought and obtained involvement and feedback from as many members of the UMD community as possible while self-study work was completed. As the end product of many hours of work and the strong commitment made by all of those involved, this report represents a synthesis of contributions made by many individuals from the UMD community. The following two sections briefly identify major milestones in the process used to complete the self-study and self-study report.
Initial thought and discussion directly related to completing the self-study process in preparation for a fall 2007 comprehensive evaluation visit by a team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) occurred among the chancellor, vice chancellors, and those directly reporting to them early in spring semester 2006. The result of these initial discussions was the appointment of an associate vice chancellor from the academic administration area to serve as coordinator of the HLC self-study review activities. The coordinator and the vice chancellor for academic administration (VCAA) attended the HLC self-study workshop and annual meeting in Chicago in April 2006. Subsequently, the coordinator met with leaders others from as many units as possible before the end of spring semester 2006 to provide information and seek feedback on the upcoming self-study process. He then reported the findings from these meetings back to the chancellor and vice chancellors.
Using input from the chancellor and other vice chancellors, the VCAA appointed an “Accreditation and Self-Study Steering Committee” in early summer 2006. The coordinator and VCAA met with the steering committee to explain and discuss the HLC criteria, explain the HLC self-study process, and identify the role of the committee and its members. The coordinator and steering committee continued to meet throughout the summer and fall of 2006 to discuss and determine a process for completing the self-study review and report, identify examples of evidence that UMD could present to document that it is meeting each of the HLC criteria and core components, and generally identify individuals and groups who should be asked to be involved in providing information about the examples of evidence to be used.
In addition to and as part of his work with the steering committee during fall 2006 the coordinator worked with the Technology Director from the College of Liberal Arts and the Manager of Desktop Services & Web Development from the Information Technology Systems and Services unit to develop an “Accreditation Review” web site linked to the UMD homepage. There was also discussion with the two technology specialists related to putting a draft of the self-study report online when it is completed and developing a system for online review of the document. The online review process would enable members of the campus community to review a posted draft copy of the report and conveniently provide feedback electronically. In addition, the coordinator worked with a graduate student from the UMD Graphic Design program to prepare drafts of a cover page and design for the self-study report contents. Steering committee members reviewed the work as it was completed in both of these areas and provided input during development and as part of the final decisions.
Due to a change in duties for the original coordinator, responsibility for leading and coordinating HLC self-study activities was switched during spring semester 2007. Co-coordinators were selected and assigned responsibility for continuing the self-study activities that were in progress and beginning preparation of the report. An orderly transition occurred during Spring of 2007.
The new coordinators as well as the UMD chancellor and VCAA attended the HLC Pre-Conference Workshop on Self-Study in Chicago in April; and one of the coordinators, the VCAA, and UMD’s director of institutional research also attended sessions at the HLC Annual Meeting which followed. While at the HLC meetings, members of the UMD contingent conferred with the HLC staff liaison for UMD about the change in responsibility for leading self-study activities at the campus and about composition of the comprehensive evaluation team scheduled to visit UMD in October 2007. Following this discussion, UMD requested and was granted a change in dates for the comprehensive evaluation team visit to March 3-5, 2008.
Based on a review of tasks to be completed and the need to meet to discuss self-study work and plans, the coordinators and steering committee members agreed to meet every other week for the last part of spring semester and throughout the summer. It was also decided to add some members to the group to provide a broader perspective for review activities and help in determining appropriate examples of evidence to be used. A listing of the members is provided at the end of this chapter. Meeting agendas and summary notes related to discussion at the meetings provide documentation of the work of the steering committee during spring and summer of 2007.
The coordinators and steering committee members worked together in late spring and early summer to develop an outline for the contents of the self-study report. They also identified sources of information that could be used as examples of evidence that UMD is meeting each of the five HLC criteria and the core components included within each criterion. The group agreed that it would be most efficient if the coordinators prepared the initial draft of the narrative for the self-study report sections which would then be reviewed by steering committee members and the VCAA. The purpose of the review of the initial draft would be to correct factual errors, identify errors of omission, and generally provide feedback and recommendations for change related to the content and structure as well as the tenor projected by the draft narrative.
As planned, the coordinators and steering committee members met every two weeks through the summer of 2007. The group spent time reviewing each of the HLC criteria and core component statements by reading and studying information provided for each of them in The Handbook of Accreditation. Following review of information provided by HLC, the group discussed what was found and worked on identifying examples of how UMD was meeting the spirit of the statements.
Based on specifications identified by the coordinators, the technology specialists developed a system and process to be used for conducting electronic review of draft copy of report narrative. An initial draft of Chapters 1 and 2 of the report was completed and posted online at the Accreditation Review web site in mid-July. Steering committee members were provided a demonstration of how to use the system for reviewing draft copy and providing electronic feedback and asked to participate in the launching of the system. Changes in the electronic review system were made based on feedback received from steering committee members after their review of the first two chapters. It was agreed that the general process used for Chapters 1 and 2 would be continued for subsequent chapters of the report until a first draft of all chapters was done—narrative would be drafted by the coordinators, steering committee members would review and provide feedback electronically, and changes to the electronic review system would be made based on feedback received.
At the end of August 2007 the coordinators made an initial email contact with the chair of the HLC comprehensive evaluation team scheduled to visit UMD. (Dr. Roberta C. Teahen, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan). The coordinators and Dr. Teahen continued communicating periodically via email and telephone through the end of 2007.
Bi-weekly meetings of the steering committee and work on preparing the draft report continued throughout the fall semester. Steering committee members reviewed sections of the draft as they were completed and posted online and provided comments with suggestions for change using the electronic review system. Using this process a draft report with introductory chapters and the five chapters related to HLC criteria was completed and posted at the HLC web site by early December. Announcements that the draft report was available for online review at the HLC web site were placed in the Statesman, the official student newspaper of UMD, (November 30 and December 6), and Currents, the newsletter for faculty and staff at UMD, (December 4). Additionally, a mass email was sent to almost 2400 faculty and staff members and 11,500 students announcing the draft report was available for online review. The email provided specific instructions for how to access the report and provide feedback using the electronic feedback system or alternative means.
Data collected at the HLC web site indicated there had been a total of almost 27,000 hits at the web site homepage by the end of 2007. The total number of hits at the link to the draft report during the 10 days it was open for “public” review by all members of the campus community during December 2007 was around 1,500, and a total of almost 280 comments related to the draft report were submitted.
Considerable time and effort was spent during the last two weeks of December 2007 revising the draft based on the many excellent comments received from members of the campus community who provided feedback when given the opportunity to help. The final draft of the self-study report was delivered to the printer on January 3, 2008.