An Invitation to Review the Self-Study
Dear University of Maine System (UMS) Community members:
Upon granting unified accreditation to the University of Maine System in July 2020, our regional accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), asked us to prepare a self-study in advance of a Fall 2022 visit by a NECHE-appointed evaluation team. This is a standard request of NECHE institutions when a “substantive change” is approved: in our case, the shift from separate university accreditations to Unified Accreditation for all universities in the System as a whole.
A self-study prepared for NECHE typically includes a 100-page narrative describing compliance with NECHE’s Standards for Accreditation; detailed sets of institutional and assessment data reported via NECHE’s Data First Forms and E Series Forms; and appendices with audit/financial and other supporting documentation.
The Chancellor is committed to transparency in everything we do, and all parts of the UMS community deserve a chance to provide input for developing and finalizing the self-study. Teams of your colleagues completed the first drafts of sections of the self-study this past spring, and we’re preparing now to share the draft self-study with you at three points in the academic year — today, and again next February and May — before publicly posting the final version next summer. We sincerely hope you’ll take the opportunity to share feedback: e.g. outcomes or examples to consider adding; data that could be presented in a more compelling fashion; thoughts about how best to organize material differently; etc.
For this first chance to offer feedback, we are posting the narrative portion of the draft self-study only, as the data forms and other documentation will be added later in the year. As you read the narrative, consider the following:
- The document you’re seeing is, again, a draft: a work-in-progress. It is not comprehensive at this stage and should not be read as such. It is not final. As you’ll see, it contains placeholders in several areas where new or updated outcomes or data will be added throughout the year. (To name just one example: we will insert Fall 2021 enrollment data after our UMS “census date” of October 15.)
- The narrative draws from the nine drafts prepared in spring 2021 by self-study writing teams with faculty and administrative representatives from our seven universities and the Maine Law School. While those drafts provide an important foundation, the narrative has already seen extensive revisions, additions, and reorganization, and will undergo several further rounds of edits in the coming year. The reasons for this include, but are not limited to, the following:
- we will continuously update the narrative as new information becomes available and/or milestones are reached in various strategic initiatives (e.g. UMS Transforms; Unified Accreditation itself);
- for clarity, and in keeping with guidance from our accreditor, the nine sections of the draft narrative – each focused on one of the NECHE Standards for Accreditation — have all been organized or reorganized in the same three-part structure (Description > Appraisal > Projection); and
- choices about what to include, what to leave out and how best to articulate where we are and where we’re headed in our unified state will be challenging. Ultimately, our Chancellor, Presidents, and Law Dean must decide, in accordance with UMS Board priorities. We must put forth a representative and evidence-based set of examples and initiatives from our universities and the Law School; reference our points of pride while offering a fair voice to concerns about areas where improvements or changes may be needed; and, do this while using what NECHE terms “one voice”: that is, rendering the work done (past and future) — by more than 130 members of the writing teams, data teams, marketing/communications staff, and others — in a uniform tone and voice.
Again, we hope you will share your thoughts. All suggestions and input will be reviewed by the editorial team responsible for finalizing the self-study. Constraints of space, prioritization of content, and in some cases, simple irreconcilability will mean that not every suggestion makes its way into the self-study. But be assured: all comments will be weighed carefully, and all will have value.
The draft self-study can be found on the UMS Unified Accreditation website.
The link to the feedback instrument is here. The deadline for submitting your feedback on the current draft self-study is Monday, October 18, 2021.Read the full self-review draft
Thank you. We look forward to hearing from you.