Accreditation at Oregon State University

Accreditation Process Moves Forward

Subhead: Campus community is asked to examine the university's mission statement

How do you view the university's new mission statement?

This spring, a campus committee will begin collecting data from each academic and administrative unit to develop a self-study document that looks at how well the university is meeting the goals and values established in the university's mission statement. It's part of the university's process of re-accreditation.

"The accreditation process will affect everyone on campus," said Bob Burton, associate chair in the Mathematics Department and chair of the Accreditation Steering Committee.

Last year, the Chancellor's Office asked the Oregon University System institutions to revise their mission statements. Andy Hashimoto, Oregon State University vice provost for Academic Affairs prepared an initial draft of the OSU Mission Statement. The university community was asked to submit comments. Based on this input, the draft underwent several revisions, culminating in the present mission statement. The final version was forwarded to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, which approved the changes last December.

Burton said the mission statement is short and states the aspirations of OSU. There are three accompanying goals, which will be used to guide planning and budgeting within OSU, as well as five clearly stated values that reflect the university's ethics and integrity.

The goals are: (1) Statewide Campus - this emphasizes the university's special mission as the land-grant university of the state of Oregon. OSU has an educational and research responsibility that can be found in every county in Oregon. Burton said this is not meant to de-emphasize other parts of OSU's mission, such as federally sponsored research or international education. (2) Compelling Learning Experience - the focus is purposely put on learning. It encompasses every aspect of student learning, not just lecture-based teaching. (3) Top-Tier University - this says that OSU strives for excellence in all endeavors, including teaching, scholarship, service, and support activities. Burton said the university aspires to be top-tier by any appropriate measures.

In April 2001, a group of 18 evaluators, primarily from peer institutions in the region, will visit the university to determine if OSU is fulfilling its mission and meeting the goals and values in the university's mission statement.

Burton said now is the time for the campus community to take a close look at the mission statement and understand how it relates to their job.

But not everyone is happy with the revised mission statement. Richard L. Clinton, a professor in the Department of Political Science, said the new language does not place enough emphasis on the core values of the institution.

"This document reflects an unfortunately shallow and rather commercialized set of values," Clinton said.

Clinton said the language describing the mission of the university should not have been changed. Prior to being approved in 1987, the university community debated the language contained in the university's mission statement for nearly three years.

Burton says that maintaining core functions and integrity of the university is important as OSU becomes more engaged with industry and the economy of the state. He said the mission statement is meant to encompass all of the activities of the university.

Clinton said he believes the final document should have been brought before the entire Faculty Senate for debate before being sent to the Board for final approval. Burton said the mission statement was reviewed by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

Both Burton and Clinton agree that the campus community had opportunities to comment on the document before it was approved by the state. Both men have a stack of e-mail comments illustrating the level to which the campus community was engaged on the issue.

"The mission statement may not please everyone," Burton said. "But there was healthy dialogue and communication on the issue. As the university grows we're going to want to periodically review the mission statement so that it accurately reflects the directions and aspirations of OSU. There will be opportunities in the future to make changes."

But as it stands now, the accreditation process will proceed with the mission statement that was approved by OUS in December.

"The campus community will have a chance to provide input into the self-study document this fall", said Gary Beach who is helping to coordinate the accreditation process. The Accreditation Steering Committee will prepare a draft report this summer based on the information it collects and then the campus community will have a chance to review the information.

"Everyone who wishes will have an opportunity to comment on OSU's self-study document," he said.

For more information about accreditation and OSU's new mission statement, or to find out how you can become involved in the process, contact Burton at 7-8009 or Beach at 7-0912.

Editor's note: This is the second part in a series of articles looking at the process of accreditation at OSU. In the future, we will look at how the self-study process will affect units on campus.

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