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Reaccreditation creates vision for campus

Cover of the final self study report for reaccreditation
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The enormous, campuswide task of examining the university’s mission and charting a course for its future has resulted in a 10-year institutional reaccreditation. The reaccreditation, which does not require further follow-up, was made by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

”This two-year process of self-study gave us a chance to articulate our values, define our mission and establish a strategic plan to move the university forward together,” says Provost Paul DeLuca. “This was an inclusive community effort. It gives us an organic plan and allows us to align our goals campuswide.”

Accreditation is the primary means of assuring accountability and improving the quality of higher education institutions. It is required to receive federal and state funding and is essential for private-sector financial support. UW–Madison has been continuously accredited since 1913.

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But this process went well beyond that need to demonstrate how the university meets the accreditation criteria. The 2009 reaccreditation process created a shared vision and a strategic framework to guide campus decisions and establish thoughtful priorities for the future.

Nancy Mathews, who led the campus’s reaccreditation effort, says that more than 6,000 people were engaged in the effort, and more than 300 participated in the work of theme teams. Their work results in a 317-page self-study that informed the reaccreditation process and provided guidance for the university’s future.

“Because of the way we conducted the self-study, using exceptionally inclusive and transparent processes, we created a rare moment in time where there was alignment across campus and widespread buy-in to a shared vision for the future,” Mathews says.

A site visit by a team assembled by the Higher Learning Commission was held from April 27–29. The team’s consultant evaluators, the majority from peer institutions, were highly impressed. They found the self-study reports to “contain impressive, thought-provoking creativity, analysis and integration of ideas and possibilities.”

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Nancy Mathews
Reaccreditation Director

Eden Inoway-Ronnie
Reaccreditation Deputy Director