The Catholic University of America

April 16, 2010

Middle States Commission Gives CUA Positive Feedback on Reaccreditation

  Middle States evaluation team chairman Antoine Garibaldi, president of Gannon University, talks to CUA faculty.

Just a few hours after an evaluation team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) wrapped up its visit earlier this week to Catholic University, CUA’s president Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., announced that the team chairman had given the university positive feedback regarding its reaccreditation.

In an April 14 e-mail to the university community, Father O’Connell said that team chairman Antoine Garibaldi, president of Gannon University in Erie, Pa., told the President’s Council, the deans and members of the Middle States steering committee that Catholic University had met all 14 standards of review in MSCHE’s Characteristics of Excellence.

“Dr. Garibaldi’s comments were positive and laudatory,” noted Father O’Connell. “There were no concerns expressed in his observations, which is good news. The visiting team offered several commendations including recognition of our excellent and dedicated faculty, the work of the Office of Student Life and our program of institutional assessment, especially learning assessment, which the team regarded as a model program that other universities should emulate.”

The team’s four-day visit was part of CUA’s reaccreditation, a process that started more than two years ago and has involved task forces comprising 145 CUA community members. The Middle States Commission evaluates all universities in D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware every 10 years before deciding whether to reaccredit them.

Father O’Connell also noted that Garibaldi praised CUA’s 171-page Self-Study report, prepared by the university steering committee as part of the reaccreditation process. The report, which addresses how the university meets the Middle States Commission’s standards, documents the university’s progress in five areas.

At the start of the visit, (from left, bottom row) James Brennan, university provost; Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., CUA president; and Antoine Garibaldi, team chairman, gather with members of the Middle States evaluation team and CUA representatives.

Those areas include: improving undergraduate education; enhancing support for graduate students; introducing new professional graduate programs; bringing in more research funding from foundations, corporations and the government; and designing a strategy for strengthening CUA’s financial base.

James F. Brennan, university provost, noted that the visit “was the culmination of a monumental effort by faculty, staff and students working on task forces that did the research and writing for the Self-Study document, which was intended as a serious and honest appraisal of the university’s progress since its last accreditation review.”

“This investment of time and energy for both the Self-Study and the actual planning of the visit was recognized by the visitors and served the university well,” he added.

In his e-mail to the CUA community, Father O’Connell said the team made several recommendations regarding “curriculum development, enrollment and retention — all of which were helpful and few of which have not already been considered internally, again a good sign.”

In February, the steering committee sent the evaluation team — faculty and administrators from peer institutions — the Self-Study report. The team visited CUA to meet with faculty, staff and students and to verify the report’s conclusions.

The team’s visit started with an April 11 tour of the CUA campus. On April 12 and 13, the evaluators met with faculty, staff and students in a series of meetings at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center and the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library, posing questions and listening to comments about academics, student life, facilities and financial resources at CUA.

The Middle States Commission will issue a formal reaccreditation report, which is expected by the end of the year.