Photographer: Kim Walker, Ohio University Communications and Marketing
Feb 13, 2013
From staff reports
Institutional accreditation is a key component in ensuring that Ohio University fulfills its educational mission. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) accredits Ohio University. The university has been continuously accredited by HLC since 1913.
In 2002, HLC invited Ohio University to adopt a new accreditation pathway know as the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Only institutions with strong records of maintaining accreditation are eligible to participate in AQIP.
In AQIP, institutions adopt a philosophy of "continuous improvement" and work on defined short term (1-3 year) "action projects" chosen by the university. Under the AQIP approach Ohio University maintains continuous HLC accreditation, which is reaffirmed every seven years.
The university is set to undergo reaffirmation in academic year 2015-2016. The process will involve the preparation of a portfolio documenting the university's academic activities and outcomes as well as a comprehensive site visit to determine if the university is meeting the criteria for accreditation.
Williford to lead accreditation efforts
Institutional accreditation involves the entire university but oversight for accreditation activities resides in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Recently Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit announced that she has asked Michael Williford, associate provost for institutional research and assessment, to provide leadership for the university's accreditation work during the upcoming reaffirmation process.
Williford will transition to a new position with the title of associate provost for institutional accreditation. With the assistance of a steering committee and in partnership with academic leaders, he will oversee all activities relating to institutional accreditation. The reaffirmation process also will provide Ohio University with the opportunity to improve its approach to academic assessment, which is now one of HLC's criteria for accreditation.
"Mike is a nationally recognized expert on accreditation and assessment. He has been a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission for 10 years and serves on their Institutional Actions Council. He is passionate about helping faculty and administrators understand how to improve all aspects of student learning and life," said Benoit. "While Mike's new role centers on upcoming accreditation activities, I also see it as an opportunity for him to be freed up to dedicate more time to assisting academic units in creating meaningful and effective assessment approaches."
Once the reaffirmation process is completed, Williford, who holds an appointment as an associate professor in the Patton College of Education, will work full-time as a faculty member in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program. The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will launch a search this month for a new associate provost for institutional research and assessment.
As the associate provost for institutional accreditation, Williford will build on the work of Martin Tuck, who during his time as associate provost for academic affairs, guided the university's accreditation efforts for eight years. Williford expressed appreciation for Tuck's careful, constructive approach to accreditation.
In reflecting on his new role, Williford indicated that having spent 30 years in the institutional research community he would miss many aspects of his current position, especially the daily interaction with his colleagues in the Office of Institutional Research. However, he expressed strong interest in turning his attention to the challenges and possibilities of the reaffirmation process.
"I am looking forward to continuing to work with everyone at Ohio University to build the strongest body of evidence for our reaffirmation of accreditation," said Williford. "This effort is extremely important so that we can preserve our academic freedom and self-determination as an institution."
Wadley to lead Office of Institutional Research
While the search for a new associate provost for institutional research and assessment is underway, Joni Wadley, associate director for academic and student assessment will lead the Office of Institutional Research as its interim director.
Benoit noted that Wadley, who has been a member of the Institutional Research Staff for 10 years, is well known across the university for her contributions to retention efforts, general education, the First Year Experience, and Learning Communities. She credited Wadley for making a significant difference in the success of efforts designed to improve undergraduate education.
"I'm confident that Joni will enable the office to continue its important work," said Benoit. "She is an established professional in the institutional research field and understands the critical role that Institutional Research plays in compliance, shared governance, academic excellence, enrollment, and budgeting."
Wadley has a doctorate in higher education administration from Ohio University, a master of arts in education from Union College, and a bachelor of arts from Wilmington College. In addition to her work with Institutional Research, Wadley has taught in the HESA program and served as the Health Careers Opportunity Program Director in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Thanking Benoit for the opportunity to assume the interim director position, Wadley said that during a time of transition for the Office of Institutional Research she was "honored and delighted to step into this new role to continue to provide excellent service to the university community."
Wadley and Williford's respective appointments are effective immediately.