Shippensburg University is in the beginning of the process of applying for reaccreditation.
Reaccreditation allows the university to function and adds a value to students’ degrees, and also functions as quality control and examines if the university is doing its job, according to history professor Gretchen Pierce.
Being accredited also allows students to receive federal financial aid. 75 percent of SU students take advantage of this financial aid. If the university was not accredited, students would have to take out private loans, according to Associate Provost Tracy Schoolcraft.
“What I like about it is it’s an example where higher [education] says we hold ourselves accountable to our students,” Schoolcraft said. “We want to hold ourselves accountable to our students and their families who help support their students when they come here.”
SU has been accredited by the Middle States Association since 1939, and was the first teachers’ college in the state to be accredited and the fourth in the nation.
The application process used to occur every 10 years, but it has since changed to every eight years. The reaccreditation process began in the spring of 2017 and will be determined in June of 2019, according to Schoolcraft.
The process begins with a 100-page self-study report that examines different aspects of the university, from classes to sports to food services. It shows how the university meets the necessary requirements to become accredited, and also makes suggestions for the future.
After the report is written, groups such as students and alumni will review the study in the fall. Edits are then made to the document, and the study then will be sent to the leader of a team of members from other universities in the Mid-Atlantic region in January. No individuals from Pennsylvania universities will be included on the team.
They will review the report and produce questions to ask when they visit SU to walk around and get a feel of campus. The team will also meet with student groups and ask students about their experiences at SU. This is to ensure that what is stated in the report matches what is seen on campus and said from students.
After the visit, there will be an open meeting for the team to discuss their findings. From there, they will submit a recommendation if the university should be reaccredited, according to Schoolcraft.
“I think the other reason why it should really matter to students, is it is quality control. If there are things we need to improve, this is how we figure it out,” Pierce said.
Schoolcraft said she was interested in involving students in work groups to help write about particular criteria.
Students will read the self-study to see the suggestions being made. She also mentioned speaking to student groups including the Student Government Association, resident assistants and the orientation team to gain ideas so the plan is beneficial for students.
“It’s all about making Ship serve you better,” Schoolcraft said.