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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an institutional self-study and why is Cumberland County College conducting one at this time?

An institutional Self-Study is a process through which an college or university examines itself in a rigorous, organized manner to ascertain the extent to which it does or does not meet a set of established standards for academic institutions of its type. While the institution will also examine itself against internal standards during the study, the external standards established by an association of peer institutions throughout the region are the benchmarks by which its performance will be assessed. Cumberland County College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It is against their standards that we will be assessing our successful achievement of our mission.

The Self-Study culminates in a visit by a team of external evaluators. These evaluators are our peers, drawn from similar institutions throughout our region. They have been trained in the Middle States standards, are experienced educators, and will provide valuable feedback on the conduct and performance of our college.

While it is extremely important that we keep in mind the role of the Middle States Commission and accreditation in this process, we must also not loose sight of the fact that the major role of the self-study is for us to examine our institution honestly and openly, to reflect on the current conditions at the college, and to make recommendations on ways we can improve our college. This period of introspection will lead to tangible improvements at the college. This truly is the main benefit of the self-study.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is an assurance to the public, from an external review board, that an academic institution achieves acceptable levels of performance on a number of established standards. The accreditation of colleges and universities in the United States is issued by regional accrediting boards through a peer-review process. The Middle States Commission on Higher Accreditation is the association which issues accreditation to colleges and universities in our region. Cumberland County College is accredited by this commission.

Without accreditation, there would be no assurance that acceptable standards of performance are being met. In the absence of accreditation, the Federal Government will not issue certain types of financial assistance including grants to the institution and financial aid to students enrolled at the institution. Accreditation also one of the necessary assurances of our standards which transfer institutions require as our students and alumni advance in their academic career. In short, accreditation gives validity to our degrees and makes us a college.

Who is involved in the self-study?

The self-study is being conducted by a committee of volunteers from across our campus community. In fact, at the current time the committee is composed of more than sixty people, including faculty, staff, administrators, students and trustees. Others, who are not members of this committee, will also participate in a variety of important ways. They may be asked to provide information during interviews, meetings or through surveys. They may be asked for information within their areas of expertise or experience here at the college. As the study progresses, drafts of the Design and Self-Study Report will be made available for review and comment. An important way that all can contribute is through review of these documents and the submission of their comments. The self-study committee hopes that you will participate in these important ways.

How long will the self-study take?

Cumberland County College began preparing for its self-study in the fall of 2008. The actual study will occur mainly during the 2009-2010 academic year. The Self-Study Report will be submitted to Middle States in October 2010, and the site-visit evaluation will occur in March 2011.

Where can I get more information?

You can get more information in the following ways:

1. Keeping an eye on this web page. It will be updated from time-to-time, as information becomes available.
2. You can contact Dr. Robert Clark, Chair of the Self-Study and Associate Professor in the STEM & Health Division at rclark@cccnj.edu.
3. You can contact Dr. Sandy Vaden, member of the Steering Committee and Director Institutional Planning and Research at svaden@cccnj.edu.
4. You can visit the web page of the Middle States Committion on Higher Education at www.msche.org.




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