Friday January 25, 2008

High Praise

In recommending accreditation for the University of Dayton for another decade, reviewers commended educational excellence and a "commitment to community" that springs from UD's Catholic, Marianist mission.

A visiting team of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association has recommended accreditation for the University of Dayton for another 10 years.

The team of 11 faculty and administrators from peer institutions visited campus in the fall to observe the University's day-to-day operations and verify information provided in UD's comprehensive self-study, which identified the University's strengths, weaknesses and challenges.

In its final report, the team praised UD's "long and honored tradition of educational excellence," "impressive history of community initiatives" and "explicit, firm commitment to community," which is illustrative of the school's Catholic, Marianist mission.

The Higher Learning Commission is expected to accept the report and approve official accreditation in April.

"Effective teaching and learning have high priority at UD," the team wrote in the report. The team commended curricular initiatives across campus, including a "robust program of general education," the School of Engineering's Innovation Center, a nationally ranked entrepreneurship program, a new doctor of physical therapy program and a law school curriculum that has caught the eye of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

UD's strong sense of community impressed the reviewers. "The University enjoys a sense of community that is pervasive and palpable," the team wrote. "Virtually all constituents at the University report a sense of ownership in this community, and recognize it as one of the defining features of the University of Dayton culture. The unique configuration of student housing in a campus neighborhood filled with interesting houses and ubiquitous front porches is a major contributor to this sense of community.

"In addition, the Catholic and Marianist mission of the University of Dayton is a defining one, largely embraced by the community. We commend the University of Dayton on this achievement, surely to be coveted and emulated by other colleges and universities."

The visiting team concurred with UD's own assessment of how well it is diversifying the campus and requested a progress report in five years.

Joseph Untener, associate provost for faculty and administrative affairs, said the accreditation team left impressed by UD's preparation for the site visit. "One member said UD's self-study was one of the best, if not the best, they'd ever seen," he said.

Over an 18-month period, Untener and steering committee members met with approximately 50 groups on campus to gather information, review drafts of the self-study, answer questions, hear concerns and collect comments. The 217-page self-study report evaluated how well UD fulfills its Catholic, Marianist mission, chronicled major curricular developments and physical changes at UD since its last reaccreditation visit 10 years ago and highlighted future challenges.

"All this effort and dedication to mission is a tremendous strategic advantage to UD," the team wrote in its reaccreditation report. "With all due respect to the Marianist virtue of humility, the team feels that UD can be extremely proud of its heritage, its mission and its vibrant learning and living community."

Joe Untener at 937-229-3334