As the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the body that accredits post-secondary educational institutions in this region, explains: “The accrediting process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence and minimizing the scope of external control.” Penn College’s accreditation by the Middle States Commission serves as a stamp of approval that does a number of things:
- Reflects the institution’s commitment to “freedom and quality in higher education and its commitment to striving for and achieving excellence";
- Enables students and employees of the College, alumni and donors, community members and employers to have confidence that the institution uses its resources wisely and fulfills its mission;
- Satisfies essential governmental criteria for students’ ability to receive loans and grants;
- Builds students’ confidence in the quality and the value of their educations;
- Serves as the foundation for School Programs’ applications for accreditation;
- Attests to the fiscal soundness of the institution relative to federal and state government;
- Bolsters the College’s ability to compete with other colleges and universities for quality students and employees.
Every ten years, colleges and universities must reapply for accreditation. This decennial evaluation involves an extensive self-study and a visit by a team of external evaluators who will read the College’s self-study report; examine documents and other information that serve as evidence of that the College meets the standards (the 14 “Characteristics of Excellence”); speak to students, faculty, staff, and administrators; and, ultimately, make a recommendation about whether to reaccredit the College. The design document for self-study is available for review. (http://www.pct.edu/president/docs/2010Self-StudyDesignDraft.pdf)
To conduct the self-study, five study groups, chaired by individuals who represent a cross-section of the institution, will identify and report evidence of the College’s ability to satisfy the standards. Standards that have a common focus have been grouped and then assigned to different study groups.