In front of a packed audience of faculty and staff in Philadelphia University’s Lawrence N. Field DEC Center, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) evaluation team read a glowing report leading to the MSCHE issuing a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation for the University on June 24. The team report, which is just one part of the entire Middle States evaluation process, commended the University for excellence in a number of areas, especially in the assessment of student learning, strategic planning and innovative programs.
“This reaccreditation further affirms that Philadelphia University is a world-class institution,” said PhilaU President Stephen Spinelli Jr. “The University continues its dramatic ascent, with our nationally and internationally recognized academic programs, numerous opportunities for industry partnerships and internships with top companies, and a job success and graduate school placement rate of 95 percent.”
As part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process, PhilaU completed an exhaustive self-study in 2015. In addition, the team of peer reviewers selected by the MSCHE from comparable member institutions, including Misericordia University, the Fashion Institute of Technology and Stevenson University, visited campus on Feb. 7-10, 2016.
In the impressive 24-page report, the eight-person team found that Philadelphia University met or exceeded all MSCHE’s 14 Standards for Accreditation. The review team highlighted significant accomplishments and noted that:
- forward-thinking and innovative leadership has led to strategic decisions to form the new school Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, to invest in strategic partnerships and to build on strength in teaching and pedagogy with Nexus Learning.
- Philadelphia University should be commended on the ongoing committee work to make the Common Core and Hallmarks offerings relevant and understandable to their students and faculty.
- the University’s Budget Advisory Committee consists of wide-ranging representation to provide input and recommendations, as well as communication of budget development.
- the University has achieved strong positive operating results over the last five years, averaging $7.3 million increase in unrestricted net assets, increasing debt service coverage and increasing total net assets.
- implementation of the Growth and Resources Opportunity model which encourages sound fiscal management and returns one-third of the prior year budget surplus into the next fiscal year.
- the University has successfully raised external funds to support faculty development.
- the reorganization and creation of the three-College structure facilitates collaborative decision-making.
- the creation of a well-defined shared governance system guides collaborative planning and provides many opportunities for faculty to participate in the decision-making process of the University.
- success in implementing a comprehensive first-year retention program, including the Starfish early alert program with a high degree of faculty use.
- successful management of net tuition rates and overall discount rate offsets a decline in full-time undergraduate enrollment and growth in traditional financial aid.
- the University should be commended for its development of an accessible and informative website, noting that information about programs and learning goals is readily available to students, applicants and the community at large.
- the development of Nexus and Nexus-Maximus and the use of design thinking as an approach to design and business solutions.
- industry partnerships present real-life problems for the students.
- the University is commended for effective organization and management of assessment at the program level with a special emphasis on the successful engagement of adjunct faculty in the assessment process.
- the University is commended for the collaborative work of Advising, Assessment, Nexus Learning and Research Advocates and their impact for integrating assessment in teaching and learning practices and sustaining a genuine culture of assessment.
- The team also commended the University for the use of quality assessment instruments including rubrics.
“Philadelphia University offers a one-of-a-kind learning environment that launches its students into careers of their passion,” Spinelli said. “Everything we do is about our students, and I am proud of the dedicated faculty and staff who deliver an exceptional, creative academic experience for the innovators of today and tomorrow.
“The standards for reaffirmation of accreditation set by the MSCHE are rigorous, and it is gratifying to be recognized for the work over the last decade that has resulted in Philadelphia University being in the strongest position in its 132-year history,” he said. “We have much to look forward to as we plan for and build an international profile for the benefit of our students and alumni.”
Visit here to see the entire MSCHE report.