May 2021 Update

Unified Accreditation Update

Following a productive May 11-12 visit by a two-member New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) evaluation team, we’ve turned our attention to two other important milestones: the imminent completion of drafts by our self study writing teams, and the first meeting of the Unified Catalog project team earlier this week.

The writing teams have been hard at work since February, with each team focused on one of the nine NECHE Standards for Accreditation (External Site). Ranging from Mission and Purposes (Standard One) to The Academic Program (Standard Four) to Integrity, Transparency and Public Disclosure (Standard Nine), the standards encompass every aspect of our work and operations in the University of Maine System. Through the self study process, we will use rigorous self-appraisal — in conjunction with evaluations like the one we participated in two weeks ago — to show our accreditor how we continue to meet the standards and thereby sustain excellence in supporting our students, faculty and staff.

The writing teams will complete their work and submit their drafts at the end of May. Over the summer, a small editorial group will stitch those drafts together to produce the first full version of the self study “narrative,” a roughly 100-page document. In the coming year, we’ll weave in detailed updates and examples in areas NECHE has previously asked us to report on, along with an additional layer addressing strategic initiatives and projects we want to highlight (e.g. UMS Transforms, the Unified Catalog initiative and similar collaborations). Throughout the editorial work, we will share regular updates with the Faculty Governance Council and (on request) with senates and assemblies.

Concurrently, a data team comprising campus and University of Maine System (UMS) Institutional Research (IR) and assessment staff will populate a set of data forms representing the other major component of the self study. To be as inclusive as possible, we have invited every member of the existing System-wide IR Group to participate on that team, along with any other campus IR/assessment staff recommended by their respective provosts. The data team will hold its initial meeting next week.

In spring or summer 2022, the full self study will be shared in draft with the UMS community, accompanied by a mechanism for sharing feedback.

As for the Unified Catalog work: the project team includes two provosts, three registrars, a financial aid director, UMS senior staff (including IT experts) and representation from the Faculty Governance Council. Every campus is represented (and will be for the duration of this initiative). The project team will use the summer months to gather additional information and discuss the scope of work with registrars, financial aid directors, and professional advisors across UMS. Beginning in September, the team will directly engage faculty on all of our campuses to ensure that they have significant voice and agency as this effort moves forward in earnest.