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July 10, 2013

SUNY Oneonta earns 10-year accreditation

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A range of learning opportunities, fiscal management and improved graduation rates among Hispanic students at SUNY Oneonta were among factors applauded by an academic assessessment group.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education Association has re-accredited the State University College at Oneonta for another 10 years.

“Such a resoundingly favorable assessment affirms SUNY Oneonta’s overall excellence, the aspirations of our strategic plan and the dedication of the entire campus community in serving our students,” SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski said in a prepared statement. “We are part of a truly exceptional institution that is positioned for even greater success in the years to come.”

SUNY Oneonta, which enrolls about 6,000 students, has been accredited by the Middle States Commission since 1949. The re-accreditation process includes a self-study that evaluated aspects of college operations from its mission, goal and objectives, to academics, student services, administration and strategic planning, a media release from the college said.

Hal Legg, SUNY Oneonta director of communications, said Middle States re-accreditation is important for the campus for several reasons.

Meeting Middle States’ 14 standards gives current and prospective students and their families assurance of the college’s quality from an independent, external organization, Legg said Tuesday. The review also provides suggestions for growth, he said.

“Finally, regional or national accreditation is necessary for any college that wants its students to have access to federal grant or loan programs through the Higher Education Act,” Legg said.

The Middle States Commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership organization committed to the promotion and assurance of excellence in higher education, the release said.

The commission officially re-accredited SUNY Oneonta at its June 27 session, after reviewing a report submitted by an evaluation team that visited the college in March.

The Middle States team also made seven recommendations, but no requirements, toward continued compliance, the release said, and a review report is due in November 2018.

The release said Middles States noted SUNY Oneonta’s significant accomplishments include:

• a “clearly articulated and strikingly succinct mission statement”;

• prudent financial management that allowed the college to come through five years of budget uncertainty and austerity with a balanced budget in each year and a savings fund of $2.5 million to invest in strategic initiatives; 

• the “openness, transparency, and collaborative deliberation that stakeholders repeatedly refer to as a hallmark of the college leadership”;

• recognition by the Education Trust, which singled out SUNY Oneonta for its success in improving graduation rates among Hispanic students; and

• a variety of experiential learning opportunities, including internships, teaching assistantships, study abroad programs, independent research, and collaboration with faculty.

William Simons, president of the Oneonta chapter of United University Professions, said union officers appreciated that Middle States representatives met with them. Overall, the Middle States re-accreditation is a success and “reflects the great strengths of the college,” he said Tuesday.

“This is a very positive achievement,” Simons said. However, in general, UUP is concerned about the time and resources that are consumed by external reviews and their processes, which have been “geometrically expanding,” he said.

The local UUP chapter has about 750 members.  

he commission also commended the college for the quality and rigor of its self-study, the release said.

The self-evaluation was overseen by an eight-member steering committee chaired by Patricia Francis, associate provost for institutional assessment and effectiveness, and Anuradhaa Shastri, associate professor of educational psychology, counseling and special education. More than 70 college faculty and staff members served on work groups that were integral in creating the self-study.