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UTICA COLLEGE – TV: Academic Accreditation and Assessment confirm online degree program quality

Utica College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Individual programs, like Cybersecurity and RN to BS Nursing are also recognized and accredited by discipline-specific accrediting agencies and associations. The rigorous process of accreditation and continuous assessment confirms that our programs, whether on ground or online, offer a high quality education.

In this video, UCTV Host, Dr. James Norrie briefly discusses the accreditation process and outcomes for our students with Marie Miknavich, Director of Academic Assessment, and Dr. Robert Halliday, Associate Provost and Dean for Graduate Studies.


Transcript: Academic Accreditation and Assessment confirm online degree program quality.


Dr. Norrie: Welcome back to UCTV, and today our topic is one of those important market-driven topics that you hear a lot about -- accreditation and program quality. And there's great skepticism, I know, amongst many people that you can run the same kind of caliber and quality of program online that you can run, for instance, on ground.
So my guests today and I'm going to let them each introduce themselves in a second, are here to help us explore that topic. So Marie, first of all, who are you and what do you do here at UTC?


Marie Miknavich: My name is Marie Miknavich, and I'm the Director of Academic Assessment here at Utica College.

Dr. Norrie: What exactly does that mean, if I was looking at it from our viewer's perspective?

Marie Miknavich: Well, part of my charge is rounding up the data that proves to our accreditors that when we say someone learns something that they actually do.

Dr. Norrie: Now, that's kind of an important topic. And you used the term "assessor," so that must lead to this question of accreditation. Are we accredited?

Marie Miknavich: We are accredited by the Middle States...

Dr. Halliday: Commission on Higher Education.

Marie Miknavich: ...Commission on Higher Education.

Dr. Norrie: Ah, so even you guys sometimes get the acronyms wrong.

Marie Miknavich: Yes, I do.

Dr. Norrie: That's good.

Dr. Norrie: Middle States Commission on Higher Education. What exactly does that mean? Robert, maybe you can take that one.

Dr. Halliday: Well, Middle States is a peer evaluation commission. In other words, it's academics and program administrators looking at each other, holding each other to the highest possible standards. And Middle States itself is recognized by the federal Department of Education, as a worthy accreditor of institutions, and Middle States accredits institutions. And in fact, if you're transferring courses in, we only accept courses from institutions that are either regionally accredited or approved by other accreditors.

Dr. Norrie: So what is the difference between being accredited by the state and being accredited by Middle States?

Dr. Halliday: Well actually, as an institution, we're not accredited by New York State.

Dr. Norrie: Ah.

Dr. Halliday: Our programs are registered with and recognized by New York State. New York State requires us to submit every single program, a very large form, which details the quality of the program, the structure of the program. They eventually register our programs and say that we're eligible to operate them.

Dr. Norrie: Okay. So we have a regional accrediting body, which is really delegated authority from the federal government that says we're accredited.

Dr. Halliday: Right.

Dr. Norrie: We have some state authority that says we're allowed to issue degrees in these various programs. That's good.

Dr. Halliday: Absolutely.

Dr. Norrie: Now, are there not also program level accreditations or things that ... Marie, maybe ...

Marie Miknavich: Yes, there are. We have independent accreditation for several programs, mostly in health professions and education.

Dr. Norrie: Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about our internal commitment to quality. So what is it that we do, Robert, under your leadership, to make sure that our programs, particularly our graduate programs, really do demonstrate to students the kind of results that they deserve?

Dr. Halliday: Well, we start by actually hiring great faculty.

Dr. Norrie: Ah, yes.

Dr. Halliday: The best place to do...

Dr. Norrie: And great deans.

Dr. Halliday: And great deans, fabulous deans.

Dr. Norrie: Great deans. Good.

Dr. Halliday: Secondly, we actually have a very deliberate process for introducing new programs. We go through an internal departmental review, a school review, and then an entire college-wide review before the program is actually is approved. We have a Curriculum Committee that looks at them for quality, and we have a number of other internal mechanisms to ensure that the program is both viable and is offering a high quality.
So before we send it to New York State Ed to be registered, we are absolutely confident that what we're offering is a high-quality educational experience that will be around for years to come.

Dr. Norrie: Great. And that really is focused on making sure, then, that each and every course a student takes probably is going to be of high quality in and of itself, in addition to the program quality.

Dr. Halliday: And what Middle States is looking for, they talk about rigor and coherence. At all levels across the college, across every program in the college, they want to see that our curriculum is coherent, it hangs together, it has a focus, it works well, and that it's rigorous, that our students really do learn stuff and come out the other end better people.

Dr. Norrie: Well, on that note, I think we'll finish up and thank both of you for being here today. I think we had a rigorous discussion.

Marie Miknavich: Thank you very much.

Dr. Norrie: It was coherent on a topic that maybe a lot of students don't really understand the importance of. So thank you for joining me today, and we look forward to challenging our programs to make sure that they are of the highest caliber and quality we can offer you. Come and see us. Talk soon.

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