November Accreditation Update

by Dr. Lorna Peterson

The draft for the Program Presentation, self-study, is due to the American Library Association in Chicago and to our review chair in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Wednesday, November 26, 2008. DLIS faculty and staff members, along with practitioner colleagues, have worked hard at writing the reports and draft chapters are almost completed. We will make the deadline for the draft report. We will receive feedback on the report with the final due to Chicago and to all reviewers February 12, 2009.

Many students are concerned about the upcoming review and our Conditional Status. Some facts:

* Your degree is ALA accredited
* ALA provides a two year grace period for students to complete a degree in the event accreditation is withdrawn or the program is closed
* You may ask the review team (ERP—External Review Panel) about this when they visit March 26 and 27, 2009—you will be told what is written above

Some students are not sure what to expect and how to behave when the team comes to visit. Be yourself! We want students to participate and attend as many open sessions as possible. The accreditation process is an open and collegial process and student participation is crucial to the review. Your honest opinions are essential. If you have the opportunity to answer questions or just speak to a reviewer, answer honestly. This is your program.

How will the visit work?

The chair of the External Review Panel will read the draft and then confer by conference call in December with the DLIS department chair and in the case of this review, the accreditation coordinator, and also with the Director for the ALA Office for Accreditation. A final report will be written and submitted by the DLIS due to the ERP team of 6 members and 12 Committee on Accreditation members on February 12, 2009. From this reading, the ERP will begin discussion with the other panel members to determine who they would like to meet with and what they would like to see. Typically, teams meet with students in an open session, with university administrators such as the provost and if possible president, employers, alumni, students, and faculty (both full-time and adjunct). Teams tour libraries and labs to see the resources available to students. The team will look at student work. The team may visit a class whether it is on site or online. Accreditation is a process to help programs and the interviewing and questioning is done to assure an education that meets the standards of the accrediting agency.

As students you do have responsibilities to your program. Read the DLIS Mission, Goals, and Objectives. Be familiar with the policies, procedures, and forms we make available to you on our web site: http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/programs/lis/

For example, you may find our Mission, Goals, and Objectives here: http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/programs/lis/mgo.asp

Academic Regulations here: http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/programs/lis/academic_regulations.asp

Forms here: http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/programs/lis/forms.asp and know that our mission as of September 19, 2008 is “Transforming lives through information.”

As students, what is the impression you want others to have of our UB DLIS student body? What are our students like and how may they differ from other students in the ALA accredited programs? What are the special characteristics and skills of Buffalo DLIS students? What do our students add to the library and information science profession and how do you see yourselves shaping the future of our profession? What it is you want the American Library Association to know about our program and its students?

Will students get to read the report?

The DLIS Program Presentation is not part of the public record. At this point, we are not sharing the report and any of its documentation to a wide audience.

Other matters?

Still have questions? Great! Perhaps through your Graduate Student Association representatives and other student groups you can arrange ways to have your questions and concerns answered through meetings, wikis, email postings, whatever may be the best way to communicate. Take action. It is your program and we want to have a transparent process. Don’t be afraid to use the structure and power you have through your student organizations to find out what it is you want to know.

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