Accreditation team praises University


 

Editor's Note: The chairmen of the Self Study Committee, Dr. Robert Wall, academic vice president, and Dr. James Buss, professor of economics, presented the following letter to the University community.

As you know, a 12-person site team representing the New England Association of Schools and Colleges visited our campus from Oct. 19 to 22 as part of Fairfield University's 10-year reaccreditation process. Team members met with all constituents of the university community. As is traditional with reaccreditation visits, the team gave an exit interview in which it summarized its findings.

We have much to celebrate considering where Fairfield has been in the last 10 years and what our plans are for the future. The overall spirit of the Fairfield University community was clearly communicated to the visiting team. The visiting team found Fairfield as a vibrant, healthy, academic community. They were impressed with how well prepared our self study was, how forthright we were about Fairfield's strengths, and how open the university was in discussing issues of concern.

The visiting team also publicly thanked all the members of the Fairfield University community for their openness, for their professionalism and for the gracious treatment and welcoming attitude on the part of everyone with whom they interacted.

We look forward to building on the issues that we raised as a community through the self study and to make as many wonderful strides in the next decade as we have in the last one.

As chairs of the Self Study Committee, we are deeply grateful for all of the input from every level of the university community. It has been a challenging and exciting project and an opportunity for the entire university community to join in looking at where we were, where we are and where we hope to be. Thank you all so much for your cooperation in this very arduous process.

The actual report was divided into 11 standards. The summary report based on the comments of the chair of the visiting team regarding each of the standards is as follows:

Standard 1 - Mission and Purpose

The visiting team believes that the mission of Fairfield University as a Jesuit Catholic institution is clearly stated and that the community of scholars, students and administrators is aware and supportive of the mission; and it is indicative in all that we do as an institution.

Standard 2 - Planning

The committee was pleased with all of the planning processes in place, but they suggested we coordinate, on a more regular basis, university-wide assessment of our programs and offerings.

Standard 3 - Organization and Governance

The visiting team stated that the organizational structure is effective, that the leaders of the university and Board of Trustees are knowledgeable about where the university should be going. They suggested that over the next decade the engineering school faculty should be more fully integrated into the University.

Standard 4 - Programs and Instruction

The team reiterated that all of our programs conform to all of the standards of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Standard 5 - Faculty

The team found that the faculty was very well qualified, conscientious, dedicated to the students, in control of the curriculum and guiding curriculum initiatives. They also found that the students were enthusiastic about the faculty, were pleased with their Fairfield education, and were excited about the intellectual challenges they found at the university.

Standard 6 - Student Services

Student Services is clearly attuned to the mission of the university by fostering the ideal of men and women for others. There is an excellent crisis management planning team. They have a highly qualified staff which takes a great interest in the students' welfare and the integration of the social and intellectual life at the university. The team agreed with the self study in indicating that the institution needs to continually improve and enhance its academic advising, especially in the area of undeclared majors.

Standard 7 - Library and Information Systems

The team found that the university has a wonderful infrastructure in place, that there is energetic new leadership in the library and that plans are underway to make certain that the library resources keep pace with peer institutions. They indicated that there were some concerns that needed to be addressed in the areas of academic computing, media technology in the classrooms, and technology policies.

Standard 8 - Physical Resources

The team commented on the beauty of the campus and the care the university has taken of its buildings, and there are no major deferred maintenance issues. One of the concerns clearly is that we move forward with addressing the issue of new space needs.

Standard 9 - Financial Resources

The team applauded the university for its excellent record of 27 years of balanced budgets. They commented that there is an increased pressure on Financial Aid and endorsed the planning for a capital campaign to address this other needs.

Standard 10 - Public Disclosure

The committee commented on the excellent quality of the university publications, its magazine and the material sent to prospective students.

Standard 11 - Integrity

The team indicated that the university ranked very high in integrity. One indicator of that was the high esteem in which Campus Ministry is placed in terms of support and involvement of students, especially in fostering the Mission Statement and the promotion of justice as an absolute requirement. They indicated that we are making good progress in diversifying the campus and indicated that over the next 10 years we should continue to work toward increasing the diversity of the faculty and administration.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 1, 1997