Dear UMass Dartmouth Community,
I am happy to announce that UMass Dartmouth has received the final report from our 2020 New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accreditation process. NECHE, formerly known as NEASC, is the regional accreditation agency for colleges and universities in New England that uses a rigorous self-review analysis process to ensure that institutions are fulfilling their educational mission. The Commission consists of faculty and administrators from affiliated institutions and public members from across the New England region.
As many of you know, preparing for accreditation and creating the self-review report takes the effort of countless people from across campus. I want to thank everyone who participated in the various meetings and interviews and spent long hours finalizing a report that shows how much UMass Dartmouth has evolved since our last comprehensive review in 2010.
In spring 2017, we brought together groups of administrators, faculty, staff, and students to begin the self-study by looking at overarching areas like governance, academics, the student experience, teaching outcomes, and educational effectiveness. Once we collected information on these topics, we created our self-study report which was reviewed by members of the NECHE Virtual Visit team in February 2020. UMass Dartmouth was one of the first virtual visits conducted by NECHE in June 2020 which included focus groups of students, administrators, faculty, and staff. The Visiting Team then reported their findings to the NECHE Commission and at the September 2020 Commissioners’ Meeting, where a team from UMassD met to discuss their findings and recommendations.
I am pleased to say that the Commission was enthusiastic about our achievements over the past decade. As expected, the Commission has continued our accreditation until 2030 and cited UMass Dartmouth as “an institution that is guided by long-held core values of student access and engagement and now is expanding its reach in research, scholarship, and innovation.”
As is customary, we will need to submit an interim fifth-year report in spring 2025 that discusses our progress since the 2020 report was published and especially focuses on our investment in graduate research and education; strategies aimed at improving retention rates for first-year students; and diversifying revenue streams through increased external funding.
The Commission also asked that we submit a report in September 2021 that concentrates on our progress in implementing a leadership transition plan regarding a permanent Chancellor and Provost; and implementing a plan to grow external funding resources to support the institution’s mission.
Regarding the University’s leadership, we are currently working alongside the UMass President’s Office on this issue and will be ready to address the Commission’s concern in our next report to NECHE. As for the issue of growing external funding to the University, we agree that there are improvements to be made. Over the years, the University has strategically been creating a larger culture of philanthropy amongst donors, alumni, and corporate partners that we believe will positively impact the institution soon. While it is certainly a precarious time for philanthropic and corporate giving, we are committed to forming new relationships that will benefit the educational mission of UMass Dartmouth.
This entire accreditation process is a chance at self-reflection to see where we are thriving and where we have work to do. As we urge students to self-analyze as they acquire new knowledge on our campus, the institution itself must also build on what it has learned over the years. With the NECHE Commission’s recommendations in mind, I know that everyone at UMass Dartmouth is ready to strengthen our transformational institution. As part of our immediate steps, we will restart the strategic planning process in the spring semester.
I want to thank and congratulate all of you on this important achievement. We will continue to strive for excellence together and I look forward to working with you as we take our next steps in accomplishing our goals and meeting our mission.
Chief Operating Officer and Acting Chancellor