A handful of students spoke on behalf of UConn’s thousand-fold student body yesterday during a professional visit from an accreditation team sent by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Every ten years UConn is reviewed and revisited by a new team of professors and administrators from other American universities in order to renew the school’s accreditation.
As part of the process the visiting team evaluates the self-study through conversation with faculty, staff and, of course, students.
Yesterday two sessions were held in the North Reading Room of Wilbur Cross where Dr. Donald H. Hayes, University of Rhode Island Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Carol H. Kim, University of Maine Vice President for Research/Dean of Graduate School, and Dr. Wanda S. Mitchell, Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and Collaborations for Virginia Commonwealth University, finally sat down to speak with UConn’s students.
Accreditation is based on nine standards, all of which the external professionals inquired about, and the students who attended said many positive things.
Overall the five students who attended the afternoon session (plus the Daily Campus reporter and photographer) raved about the university.
When Hayes, Kim and Mitchell asked what these students liked about UConn, Rachelle Joseph, human development and family sciences major, said she loved the strong school pride.
Each attendee said grateful things about the school’s community, despite volume and including diversity.
Mitchell asked how UConn could take advantage of its abundant diversity.
“If you’re knowledgeable – you can be the educator,” said Drevaun Bailey, fifth-semester physiology, neurobiology and psychology major, as he recalled helping his international roommate in his first semester at UConn.
All the students echoed sentiments of appreciation for the school’s wide variety of resources like the cultural centers. Opportunities like those are made available by the career center and smaller niches within the university, i.e. student clubs.
Zehlun ‘Alan’ Lang, the Daily Campus photographer, was put on the spot with the same question and said “a group project never makes me nervous. I walk around campus and everyone seems to say hello.”
In response to what could be improved, “parking” was Lang’s first word.
Joseph reminisced of the security provided by Husky Rides late at night so she could stay at the library till closing at 2 am and the buses stopped at midnight.
In her comments, Joseph also exalted three programs she takes advantage of at UConn: the African American Cultural Center, the Academic Achievement Center and Student Support Services.
“My SSS counselor recommended me, he said I should come and voice my opinions,” Joseph said.
As a Week of Welcome leader, Joseph has a lot of school spirit and adoration for the university.
She attended the meeting “wanting it to be better for future students, basically just doing my part. I don’t want to just go here, take classes and graduate. I want to actually do something with my time here.”
Jake Miller, first-semester molecular cell biology graduate student, said he was interested in the process of reaccreditation and the students’ thoughts.
“I teach undergrad, so I wanted to hear what undergrads had to say about UConn since I’m new. So I don’t know a whole lot yet, especially what undergrads think of the school.”
The accreditation process has nine standards including “teaching, learning and scholarship,” “institutional resources” and “educational effectiveness.”
In turn, the team asked the group questions about each. Mitchell asked about community outreach and student affairs; Kim asked about graduate student life and access to faculty.
The interviewers were impressed by the responses.
“The students really often provide the best views as to what’s going on campus, I mean I’m an administrator at a different university, we know what we’re supposed do and say, but you guys are usually the most candid,” Hayes said. “We really appreciate that and so do the folks here at UConn, that you were willing to come here today and do this.”
Tony Patelunas, third year molecular cell biology PhD student and former president of GSS, also attended the session at noon where a bit larger crowd of students attended and voiced similar opinions.
“You usually get 15 or 20 out of the thousands of students, and they’re usually constructive,” said Hayes. “Mostly it’s ‘You know, if you do this it’d be a much better experience.’”
The team will report back to the NEASC and eventually the Association will, most likely, renew UConn’s accreditation.
Francesca Colturi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.