All colleges and universities in the United States must be accredited by a regional accreditation body. Gallaudet was last accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in 2013, and our next accreditation review is in 2023. s President Cordano wrote in February, “Our accreditation work is integral to the strategic direction and transformation of our university. While the accreditation process ensures that we adhere to minimum standards, it also presents us with an opportunity to identify our areas of strength, what areas of support we need for future success, and what we can innovate going forward. These building blocks will continue to lead Gallaudet forward as an institution of excellence.”

The accreditation process begins with a self-study — basically, a look inward, a “deep dive” into what we do and how we do it. We submitted our self-study design in June 2021, in both American Sign Language and English, and MSCHE was impressed with both the design itself and our innovative means of delivery.

Our next step is to convene work groups that address each of the seven MSCHE standards. Each work group has a chair or co-chairs, and a broad, diverse representation, including staff, faculty, and members of the Board of Trustees. These groups will hold their first meetings this month, then start their work in earnest, answering questions about our compliance with the MSCHE standards, collecting quantitative and qualitative data, conducting interviews, and preparing reports. This process will take 12 to 18 months. After we submit our self-study, MSCHE will set up a site visit. The evaluators will meet with members of our executive team and stakeholders across campus. Finally, they will summarize their findings and recommend action.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for work group members. We will introduce them in the next communication. The reaccreditation cycle, historically ten years, is becoming eight years, so the next opportunity for the campus community to serve will not be until 2029, ahead of the 2031 accreditation review.

Thank you for your support in this exciting time of self-assessment — the goal of which is to continue our commitment to academic and operational excellence! For more information, please visit our webpage and MyGU page.

Meet the MSCHE accreditation team leaders

Dr. Crystal Harris, Co-chair, Gallaudet University MSCHE self-study team

My background involves financial aid, student finances, and higher education leadership. This is my first time being involved with university accreditation, but as someone who is passionate about leadership and the student experience, I am looking forward to serving as one of the co-chairs for MSCHE. Accreditation brings the community and university together; working together to showcase excellence, the value of the degree, and how we will always be forever learners in the world of higher learning. I am excited to collaborate and work with many old and new faces to ensure Gallaudet thrives as the premier liberal arts institution for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Dr. Willam Ennis, ‘00, Co-chair, Gallaudet University MSCHE self-study team

I have served in faculty leadership for the past six years and look forward to serving as one of the co-chairs for the MSCHE accreditation work. This process compels us to take a moment to reflect on what we are doing as a university and to assess that work. We should embrace this opportunity to do so because when we do, we realize there are many things for us to celebrate and build on. Likewise, there are challenges that are still ahead of us, but identifying those challenges together is the first step in addressing them.

Dr. Caroline M. Kobek Pezzarossi, PhD ’08, Accreditation Liaison Officer

I have taught in the Department of Psychology since 2009, and more recently, I was responsible for our campus-wide professional development program as Vice Chair of the University Faculty. In my current role as Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Certification, and as MSCHE Accreditation Liaison Officer, I work with our university programs to align our goals with what we do in our everyday lives. I also work closely with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This work is enormously satisfying, and gives me a holistic perspective on Gallaudet University and how we work together.

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