Middle States visiting team thinks Georgetown is the bee’s knees

As part of the ongoing re-accreditation process Middle States Commission on Higher Education puts the university though on a regular basis, a team of administrators from other university’s came to review Georgetown in the last week. And according to them Georgetown is doing (almost) everything right.

Leading the review team was Rebecca Chopp, President of Swarthmore College. Chopp said at a formal reception for the team yesterday that over the past few days, she and her team met with administrators, board of directors, faculty, and students to assess how Georgetown is doing on its four goals (fun fact: President DeGioia, in his introduction, said she met with the board of directors, faculty, and administrators… that’s it). Although she had glowing praise for (almost) every aspect of the university, she did give the caveat that she wasn’t allowed to reveal her recommendations because that was the responsibility of the Middle States Commission. She advised those in attendance to “read between the lines.”

For institutional support and development, she congratulated Georgetown on its well-defined governance procedures for input from faculty and students. She further congratulated the University on its values-based planning efforts: there is a widely shared understanding on campus of what Georgetown is, and what it can become, she said.

According to Chopp, a member of the Board of Directors told her that Georgetown can be summarized by four qualities: preeminence, research, service to the global community, and responsible resource allocation. She said that administrators, faculty, and students regularly engage in conversations about planning. On a financial level, the university outperforms its resources.

For planning, Chopp did say that the University should enhance the mechanisms for information-sharing across campus, specifically in context of the Office of Institutional Support and Decision making.

Her view of the general education requirements was mixed. She suggested that there be a follow-up visit in five years to see the results of the committee on general education. Although the general education requirements are outlined in the undergraduate bulletin, she said that the SFS is the best at explaining the purpose of the gen eds. Additionally, she said that students desired clearer structure and guidance for navigating the requirements.

In regards to intellectual life, she said that Georgetown should increase the number of “high-impact” practices, including better institutional support for undergraduate research.

She ended her talk with a joke about the size of the campus, saying that the cramped quarters drove cross-discipline cooperation. Moving forward, she will write a formal report within 10 days, and send it to the university for edits. It will then be sent to the Middle States Commission, where the university can edit it again.

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