Archive for Friday, January 28, 2005

Online degree programs on accreditation agenda

January 28, 2005


The future of online education at Kansas University will be among the issues discussed next week as the university plays host to a 12-member team from its accrediting council, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

For the first time, KU is asking for accreditation that would allow it to offer entire degree programs online. Currently, only degree-completion programs are offered.

"We don't have a specific program that we're proposing right now," said David Shulenburger, provost and executive vice chancellor. "They'll look at the technology, make sure our programs are faculty-approved, that we have library facilities to support them and policies to deal with students who are remote."

Shulenburger said the university would most likely offer graduate degree programs.

He said he fully expected the online accreditation -- as well as the university's overall accreditation -- to be approved.

The accreditation committee, which comprises faculty and administrators from institutions comparable with KU, will hold 30 meetings with various people on campus. The visit follows the completion of a 300-page self-study that took KU two years to complete.

The self-study is available online at

"I think we're well-prepared," said Barbara Romzek, who chairs the university's accreditation committee. "Of course, the definition of a surprise is 'something you don't think of.' But I think we're covered on the issues we have thought of."

Romzek, who also is associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said she expects topics of the meetings to include use of tuition money, student services, research, outreach, athletics, town-gown relations and distance education.

Several open forums will be available next week for Kansas University faculty, staff and students to visit with the accreditation team from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.The schedule:¢ Faculty sessions: 3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Monday, Parlors A and B, Kansas Union; and 8:30 a.m.-9:15 a.m. Tuesday, International Room, Kansas Union.¢ Staff session: 11:15 a.m.-noon Monday, Alderson Auditorium, Kansas Union.¢ Student session: 3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Monday, Regionalist Room, Kansas Union.

"These people come to campus, and they've read the self-study report," Romzek said. "They're confirming what we've said in the self-study report is what we're actually doing."

KU should receive a draft copy of the committee's report 30 days after the site visit and a final report by the end of the spring semester.

Romzek said suggestions made in past reports have led to policy decisions in areas such as increasing diversity, making computer networking a high priority and increasing the strength of the graduate school.

"What we're hoping for is they'll come in and give us some insights to do things in a new way, based on their experiences," she said. "It's a chance for us to learn some best practices from comparable institutions."

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