ASG learns about reaccreditation process

Professor+Ken+Pinnow+and+Assistant+Professor+Jennifer+Dearden%2C+co-chairs+of+the+Middle+States+Working+Group%2C+present+to+ASG%27s+General+Assembly%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2021

Evelyn Zavala

Professor Ken Pinnow and Assistant Professor Jennifer Dearden, co-chairs of the Middle States Working Group, present to ASG’s General Assembly, Sept. 7, 2021

The second Allegheny Student Government meeting of the fall 2021 semester brought a more in-depth look at the college’s ongoing reaccreditation process.

Jennifer Dearden, assistant professor of music, and Kenneth Pinnow, professor of history gave a detailed presentation on the purpose of reaccreditation and the process. Dearden and Pinnow are co-chairs of the Middle States on Higher Education Working Group.

“It is a way for us to look at who we are as an institution, what we have been doing, how we are doing it, how we want to continue moving going forward and what ways can we think of to continue things that are going well and also finding ways for improvement and innovation,” Dearden said. “In this institutional self-study, we are looking at the quality of the curriculum, how we are delivering it and how we are achieving our institutional goals.”

Dearden announced where the college is in the self-study process using a graphic of the self-study timeline.

After describing the plans the school has with the self-study, Dearden stated the school is not in danger of not being reaccredited.

“No one is thinking that that is an issue for us,” Dearden said.

Pinnow outlined the criteria the Middle States Commision requires for the school.

“A good institution has a mission and goals, a good institution is an ethical institution in terms of how it conducts its business and how it interacts with students in the community,” Pinnow said. “They’re very interested in our curriculum, the design, student experience and how we support the student experience.”

The college is choosing to self-assess differently according to their own standards.

“We have chosen a more complicated approach,” Pinnow said. “Instead of writing it according to the seven standards, we are going to organize our self-study around four priorities that we have identified as an institution. At the same time, we have to show that we are meeting the seven standards.”

The self-study involves a large number of people working together on different parts.

“There are five working groups that are helping us run this self-study,” Dearden said. “Each of the four working groups have a priority. The steering committee communicates with the working groups and the working groups communicate with the steering committee.”

Dearden spoke about the goals the college has with self-improvement.

“One of the goals is to make this assessment loop just a normal thing, so that the next time the self-assessment comes around it is not a huge deal and just something we are already doing,” Dearden said. “Allegheny is already doing a number of assessments across campus but we would like to make it more noticeable so people know we are doing it.”

The administration is prioritizing transparency between the student body and the administration during the self-study process, according to Dearden.

“The self-study process should not be done behind closed doors,” Dearden said. “If we are holding a mirror up to ourselves it should be something everyone can see. We want you to know what’s going on and want student and staff voices to be involved.”

The effort to have more transparency has already begun with a communication plan.

“Very soon there will be a web page which will be a key way for us to communicate with you and others on campus,” Pinnow said. “There will be things about the events, timeline, you will be able to access minutes, find out what’s going on and so forth. We also plan to maybe have monthly email updates with what’s going on.”

The presentation ended and was followed by cabinet reports.

Chief of Staff Genesis Pena, ’22, proposed an idea to help senior students combat stress from their senior comps.

“I wanted to bring up the idea of comp buddies,” Pena said. “We would have underclassmen sponsor a senior and encourage them to get their mind off their and off the stress,” Pena said.

Director of Finance Lucas Biniewski, ’23, gave the current financial status.

“This week I spent $116.37 from the general fund and $4,868.55 from the surplus fund,” Biniewski said.

Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Andi Reiser, ’23, shared plans to continue to promote sustainability on campus

“We have been discussing having a water bottle, tumbler and metal straw giveaway just because those tangible things really helped me remember to be sustainable,” Reiser said.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:47 p.m