On March 28, I squeezed into a standing room-only crowd in the Sweigart Auditorium for the exit session with our Middle States evaluation team. This meeting was the culmination of a four-day visit, during which a recommendation would be made regarding Rider’s accreditation.
Flash back to October 2015, when two consultants were brought to campus to help begin the Middle States external review procedure. At that time, I don’t think anyone in the room believed that the process would go well for us. Well, we were wrong.
As the visiting team chair Jim Troha, president of Juniata College, read the report verbatim, it slowly became evident just how much had been accomplished during the course of the self-study. Focusing on such initiatives as the strategic plan, prioritization and engaged learning, the 100-page document provided a detailed and candid account of where we are and where we are going as an institution.
Many of us were filled with trepidation as Troha began to read the team’s statement.
Members of the team had been meeting with various constituents of the Rider community to gather additional information by asking direct and challenging follow-up questions about the self-study. They asked about assessment and student learning outcomes, finances and resources, and program development and review. They asked about buy-in and morale.
Long story, short: We were recommended for compliance with all seven standards established by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education for accreditation. While the team shared a number of recommendations and suggestions, they made no requirements (the most severe response short of failing) in any of the areas.
This was indeed good news.
I left the auditorium feeling extremely proud to be a member of the Rider community. We opened our doors to be scrutinized by an external team of evaluators, and the hard work of countless students, faculty, staff and administrators had paid off for us. We worked together and demonstrated just how resilient we are.
And while there is still much to be done, we have a clear path forward to follow.
So, as this academic year winds down, take a moment to appreciate just how much has been achieved, and then I urge you to consider what you can do to keep this positive momentum going.
— Jonathan Millen
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Printed in the 4/11/18 issue.