Issue: April/May 2015
April/May 2015 Message: Marge Avery
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the regional accrediting agency that has accredited Houghton College since 1935. Every ten years each institution goes through a self-study to determine whether the institution is still meeting the Commission’s “Standards of Excellence” and submits a report. MSCHE sends a visit team (composed of individuals from different colleges) which has read the report to explore the campus community, ask questions, and see if they find what the institution found. MSCHE then decides whether to extend an institution’s accreditation. Each institution also undergoes a periodic review at the five year point in between the ten year reviews.
Someone might ask, “Why worry about being accredited?” Most students who attend unaccredited institutions won’t be eligible for federal or state financial aid or many graduate schools. Houghton being accredited allows our students to remain in school and be eligible for financial aid, and our alumni to continue to be accepted into graduate school and place well in employment opportunities.
In preparation for the site visit which occurred March 15 – 18, 2015, Dr. Paul Young was appointed in the fall of 2012, to be the Self-Study Steering Committee Chair. The rest of the committee was also appointed that fall and began meeting in January 2013. Members of the Self-Study Steering Committee (which included three staff members) headed the seven working groups which evolved to create and answer questions and write chapters. Sixteen other staff members served on the working groups and many additional staff members assisted the process by answering questions, generating and organizing data, preparing documents, helping to facilitate the writing and editing of the report, making preparations for the Visit Team’s arrival, and working with them once they were on campus. Houghton has spent over two years working on this process.
The visit team held an exit session giving Houghton an A+ for hospitality and top marks for our efforts. They expressed gratitude for all Houghton did to help them, said we live in “a BEAUTIFUL part of the world” and were very impressed with our “outstanding facilities.” It was clear staff, faculty and administration believe and promote the mission: “Houghton College provides an academically challenging, Christ-centered education in the liberal arts and sciences to students from diverse traditions and economic backgrounds and equips them to lead and labor as scholar-servants in a changing world.” The head of the visit team, Dr. Jay Lemons, quoted Frederick Buechner “ “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” “ What he saw at Houghton led him to believe that we serve Our God here, because that’s where He has called us to be.