Thursday, April 27, 2017

Accreditation Morning

Today is the day.  The binders are ready, with other documentation in our offices, should it be needed.  The room is set up, with extra power strips on various surfaces.  The small fridge and Keurig machine have been moved upstairs to the room set aside for the accreditation visit.  I have cleaned my office:  surfaces not seen for several months now sit empty.

The auditors arrive today.

I think of past accreditation visits, where I have waited in my office, should the accreditors have wanted to know more about our General Education department.  I was never summoned--but I was O.K. with that.

Today, in my position as Director of Education, a position akin to a dean, I expect to be summoned.   I have spent hours reviewing the documents that we created in November.  I have looked at updated numbers.  I have checked and double checked (and triple checked) the files.  I feel ready to answer questions.

But I also expect that department chairs will spend more time with the team. I feel confident that they will do well.

The last time we had accreditors arrive, I was at a different school, and I was beginning to have serious, very serious, doubts about the legitimacy of that school.  I was worried about the cost of the bachelor's degree and what students got for that money, aside from their debt.  I didn't agree with the school's vision of "right sizing"--many talented faculty had been dismissed, along with other staff, and jobs had been outsourced or eliminated.

Happily I don't have that issue at my current school.  The policies and pricing make sense to me.  I'm at a campus that is growing.  The students get AS degrees and then they get jobs--once I'd have been sad at the lack of traditional education as I understood it, but my outlook has shifted.  At least they finish and get jobs, which students at many schools don't do.

Still, as I put textbooks on the bookcase for the auditors to consult, if they wanted, I had a moment of feeling startled at how few General Education classes we're offering--very different to my old school.  But it's mostly because we don't offer degrees beyond the Associates degree.

I have written before how this process of preparing for an accreditation visit reminds me of studying for Comprehensive Exams.  I remember the morning of my Ph.D. Comps.  I'd spent months studying.  I felt ready, but also worried that I had overlooked something.  Each morning, I looked out my back screen door to see the progress that a spider had made spinning a web across the back railing of the landing.  It was amazing.  I saw it as a good omen.

Preparing for Comps, and preparing for an accreditation visit, is like that spider weaving.  Little by little, an intricate web appears.  There may be setbacks, but the web can be rewoven.  There's an artistry to the process, as well as functionality.

I have drunk my V8 juice, the breakfast drink of champions, the one I choose for days when I'm not likely to eat many vegetables.  I will eat my porridge as soon as it cools.  I will wear the outfit that makes me feel best about my professional self, along with the closed toe shoes that I rarely wear, but first I will wear my more comfortable shoes for the setting up we still have to do.

I am calm.  I am ready.  I am interested to see how the day goes.

No comments: