Harvard’s Reaccreditation Steering Committee, chaired by Scott Edwards, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and professor of organismic and evolutionary biology, has been meeting for several years and working with various groups and colleagues across the University to prepare a self-study for the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The group is one of seven regional U.S. accrediting commissions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and it accredits approximately 240 institutions in the six-state New England region. Harvard has been accredited by the commission since 1929 and was last reviewed in 2009.
The 2017 self-study focuses on various dimensions of the University as prescribed by the accreditors, such as organization and governance, academic programs, planning and evaluation, institutional resources, and educational effectiveness. Because most of Harvard’s graduate and professional Schools are separately accredited, the report emphasizes the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in particular the College, along with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
A comprehensive evaluation, including an on-site visit, will take place Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 by a team representing NEASC. Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon will chair the evaluation team, which includes faculty and administrators from peer institutions. The team will visit campus to gather evidence that the self-study is thorough and accurate, to explore issues raised by the self-study, to gain direct understanding of Harvard through discussions with administrators, faculty, and students, and ultimately to recommend to the commission a continuing accreditation status. Following a review process, the commission will make a final determination.
During the on-campus visit, there will be open lunch meetings for students and faculty to talk with the evaluation team, on Oct. 30 for students and on Oct. 31 for faculty. Both meetings will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Harvard Faculty Club.
In advance of the visit, the public is invited to submit comments that address substantive matters related to institutional quality. The commission does not settle disputes between individuals and institutions, whether those involve faculty, students, administrators, or members of other groups, and does not treat comments as confidential. Public comments must be received by Nov. 1, and can be sent by email or by regular mail to:
Public Comment on Harvard University
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
Burlington, MA 01803-4514