An accreditation process under way at Kansas University could pave the way for future planning on campus.
A 22-member committee has begun preparing information for the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits KU every 10 years.
"We should be well within the standards for being accredited," said Barbara Romzek, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and chairwoman of the accreditation committee. "We want to learn from (the process). We should get a sense for what will be happening in the next 10 years."
The last time KU went through an accreditation process -- which ended in 1995 -- North Central evaluators suggested improvements such as increasing diversity, making computer networking a high priority and increasing the strength of the graduate school.
Romzek said KU clearly had responded to those suggestions. A task force is working on diversity issues, networking has improved on campus and a committee has prepared a report to change the structure of the graduate school.
She said she expected a similar list of improvement suggestions during this accreditation, though it's too soon to know what the suggestions might be.
The accreditation committee, made of students, faculty, staff and administrators, will prepare an extensive self-assessment report on KU programs on all three campuses. The report focuses on five areas: research, teaching, community service, planning and mission/integrity of the university. That report will be done around the end of this year.
Then the committee will prepare for a group of evaluators from North Central to visit KU in the fall of 2004. The evaluators will meet with the committee and a broad range of other campus groups.
Notice of re-accreditation would come in 2005.
North Central has followed a national trend in changing its accreditation process, Romzek said. Instead of taking a "checklist approach" to what programs the university has, she said the focus was now on how well the university followed its mission.
"It's a pretty extensive audit of everything the university has been up to for the last 10 years, in the context of the university mission," she said. "What is the university supposed to do, and are they doing it?"
Accreditation allows KU to grant degrees and accept federal money. KU has been accredited by North Central since 1913.