Academic Planning and NEASC

From Provost Esterberg's College Address, 09.21.09

We will be undertaking two large initiatives this year:  our NEASC accreditation and a comprehensive academic planning process.  NEASC is the College‚Äôs most important accreditation.  It requires a comprehensive review of all that we do: not just academic programming, but student programming, facilities, finances, and planning and assessment.  This upcoming year will be devoted to a thorough self-study, in preparation for our site visit in April 2011.

This is an extraordinary undertaking, but a very useful one, for it gives us the opportunity to assess what we are doing, to learn from that assessment, and to improve.  The NEASC self-study process makes clear that we are an institution dedicated to teaching and learning, and that we are willing to examine our own practices to see what we can learn and then put that knowledge into practice.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our co-chairs of the NEASC accreditation team, Deans Neal DeChillo and Susan Cirillo.  I also want to thank all of the faculty and staff who have volunteered to chair and serve on standards committees.                                 

Preparing for NEASC gives us the opportunity to embark on a comprehensive academic planning process.  This academic planning process will provide us with the opportunity to examine our academic programs to see if we offer the right mix of programs to help our students succeed and to see if the programs we offer are current not just for 2009 but for the next decade as well.  It will also provide us with the opportunity to see if there are new programs that we want to be offering.  Over my eight months here, I have heard faculty present wonderfully creative proposals to serve our students.  These programs range from an MPP/MPA, expanded environmental programs, or creative interdisciplinary programs that bring together faculty not just across departments but across schools. 

If we are going to add new programs, and I certainly expect we will, we must also ask ourselves if there are things we should not be doing, or not be doing so much of, or doing in a more efficient way.  This is what that the comprehensive academic planning process is intended to do, to create a structured way in which faculty can have a discussion about our programming, and to do the kind of planning that will significantly help our NEASC efforts.