USMA reaccreditation visit scheduled for end of September

September 17th, 2020 | Articles, Community Leisure
Almost 80 members of the USMA staff and faculty have participated in working groups that have evaluated whether the academy meets the standards set forth by its institutional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

By Jon Malinowski
Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering professor

Between Sept. 27-30, the U.S. Military Academy will host a seven-member team for a virtual reaccreditation evaluation visit. Led by the Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, this team of peer reviewers will conduct interviews and focus groups with various constituencies within the USMA community.
The evaluation team’s itinerary includes a session that is open to all USMA personnel, which will be held from 12:15-1:15 p.m. Sept. 29. The visit will conclude on Sept. 30 when the evaluation team presents its initial findings in a virtual address to the community from 10-11 a.m.
This visit is an important milestone in an effort that has been underway at West Point for more than three years.
Almost 80 members of the USMA staff and faculty have participated in working groups that have evaluated whether the academy meets the standards set forth by its institutional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
The evidence gathering and analysis done by these working groups is reflected in a comprehensive USMA Self-Study 2020 report, which was submitted to MSCHE in mid-February.
This report provides useful context for the evaluators as they gather additional perspective through their interactions with USMA’s senior leaders, staff, faculty and cadets during the visit.
Although USMA is required by Army Regulation to maintain appropriate accreditations, it is also worthwhile for several additional reasons.
First, institutional accreditation is an important means through which colleges and universities establish that they are worthy of the public’s trust. Accreditation status has an impact on institutional reputation, and therefore on recruiting. For USMA, this dynamic affects its contribution to the Army as a commissioning source, since one of the academy’s strengths is its ability to attract talented young people from across the country to service as Army officers.
Second, as a related issue, institutional accreditation is a prerequisite for program-level accreditations, such as ABET accreditation of USMA’s engineering programs, as well as a prerequisite for institutional membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
USMA’s nationally ranked engineering programs and its Division I athletics programs are reflections of the institution’s pursuit of excellence in every aspect of its mission to develop leaders of character to serve as Army officers.
Finally, the process of obtaining or renewing institutional accreditation provides institutions of higher education with an opportunity to improve.
As they engage in self-evaluation through the lens of their vision, mission and goals, institutions have a valuable opportunity to reflect on their strengths and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.
This has been true for USMA, which has already taken advantage of the reaccreditation process to reflect on its strengths, while also taking steps to address the opportunities for improvement identified in the USMA Self-Study 2020 report.
As noted by Brig. Gen. Cindy Jebb, the Dean of the Academic Board, “The pursuit of excellence requires critical self-examination and a willingness to act on what we learn.”
The reaccreditation visit this September will be a continuation of USMA’s pursuit of continual improvement as it accomplishes its mission and realizes its vision.
The academy will likely be informed of the results of its current effort in March 2021.  With the conclusion of this iteration, USMA will shift from a 10-year to an eight-year cycle, establishing 2028 as the next target year.