Accreditation changes: Core themes are endorsed

Student senators voted unanimously to endorse a document presented by representatives from the College Accreditation Committee on Feb. 21, despite strong opposition from senior Colin Jones, Associated Students of Linfield College president.

Accreditation committee co-chairs Library Director Susan Barnes Whyte and Brenda DeVore Marshall, department chair and professor of theatre and communication arts, along with committee member Jeff Mackay, associate dean of students and director of residence life, presented to Senate on Feb. 14 four core themes that their committee developed as a first step to comply with new accreditation policies.

The themes are culture of engagement and excellence, integrated teaching and learning, global and multicultural understanding, and experiential learning.

The committee representatives said they included faculty, administrative and student input in the discussion of the themes. But Jones, who sat on the committee, said that student voice is absent from the final core themes document that was endorsed by the board of trustees last weekend.

“There’s a big difference between having a student sit at the table and actually integrating the student views; they only did the former,” Jones said. “I resigned [from the committee] at the end of Fall Semester out of frustration with the process.”

Mackay said that Jones was doing his job as ASLC president by standing up for the student voice and that students had and will continue to have a vote in the new seven-year accreditation process.

“The students were at the center of what we were trying to create. Those core themes are all focused on the student experience,” he said.

Whyte said student voice, specifically regarding strong pressure for a sustainability core theme, will be incorporated into the objectives. Developing objectives from the core themes is the second process the accreditation committee will address.

She said the process is constantly evolving, so sustainability may be added as a core theme in the future, especially since it’s included in the revised Linfield mission statement, from which the themes were derived.
“Change shows an evolution of the strategic planning and budgeting process of the college,” Whyte said. “Since we’re just starting, we’re not clear how it’s going to work out.”

Kelley Hungerford, editor–in-chief

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