Middle States Self-Study

Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), through accreditation, mandates that its member institutions meet rigorous and comprehensive standards, which are addressed in the context of the mission of each institution and within the culture of ethical practices and institutional integrity expected of accredited institutions. In meeting the quality standards of MSCHE accreditation, institutions earn accredited status, and this permits them to state with confidence, “Our students are well-served; society is well-served.”

Why does Accreditation Matter?

  • Accredited institutions have access to federal grant money for faculty and financial aid for students.
  • Credits are more easily transferred to four-year schools.
  • Teaching and research efforts of the faculty are legitimized.
  • The process invites the College to consider: How are we doing?

How does MSCHE accreditation work?

The Commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions.

Specific programs often have an additional program focused accreditation. These include:

  1. RN – BS Degree Completion Program
  2. Nursing AAS
  3. Practical Nurse Certificate Program
  4. Occupational Therapy Assistant AAS
  • MSCHE Process

    Overview of the Self-Study Process

    As part of the Self-Study process, the college prepares an extensive written Self-Study Report. This report and the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation serve as the basis for an on-site evaluation by a team of peer evaluators. During Self-Study, the institution carefully considers its educational programs, policies and services, with particular attention to student learning and achievement, and it determines how well these programs and services accomplish the institution’s goals, fulfill its mission, and meet the Commission’s Standards. Under the leadership of a Steering Committee appointed by the institution, working groups or subcommittees examine existing data and evaluations, gather new information, and prepare analytical reports on their assigned topics. The Steering Committee edits the reports of the various working groups, produces a draft for discussion, and disseminates the final Self-study Report. A broad cross-section of the campus community is expected to participate in each component of the Self-Study process as part of the Steering Committee, the working groups, and campus-wide discussions. The Self-Study Report has two sets of audiences and two major purposes. The primary audience is the institution’s own community and the secondary audience includes external or public constituencies. The primary purpose of the Self-Study Report is to advance institutional self-understanding and self-improvement. The Self-Study Report, therefore, is most useful when it is analytical and forward-looking rather than descriptive or defensive, when it is used both to identify problems and to develop solutions to them, and when it identifies opportunities for growth and development

    In the past, the Self-Study process and related site visit occurred on a ten year cycle, however MSCHE is now transitioning to an eight-year accreditation cycle.

    The Peer Review Process

    After appropriate institutional constituents have reviewed a draft of the Self-Study and revisions have been made, the institution submits a final Self-Study Report, including all required materials, to the Commission and Team Members for their review. The Commission will also share the institution’s peer-reviewed Compliance Report with the Team Chair. After the evaluation visit is completed, the Team Chair submits a Team Report to both the institution and the Commission. After reviewing the Team Report, the institution submits an Institutional Response. The Team Chair also submits a Confidential Brief to the Commission. The Confidential Brief contains a summary of findings, as well as a proposal for Commission action.

    Commission Process

    The Committee on Evaluation Reports meets and discusses the Self-Study, Team Report, Confidential Brief and Institutional Response with the Team Chair. After consideration of all materials, the Committee makes a proposal for Commission action. If the Committee’s proposal differs substantially from the proposal found in the Team Chair’s Confidential Brief, the institution will be contacted and invited to submit additional materials prior to the next Commission meeting. At that meeting, the Commission determines a final action and the institution is notified. For more information, please review Commission Procedures, Advance Notice of Noncompliance Recommendations.

  • Maria College's Middle States Accreditation Process

    Maria’s Approach to Preparing the Self-Study: 

    Maria began preparation for the Self-Study in the fall of 2016, when the College was represented by a Chair of one of three academic departments at the college who attended the Self-Study Institute in Philadelphia, PA.  Upon returning from the Institute, an over arching Self- Study Steering Committee as well as Working Groups for each of the seven (7) MSCHE standards were established.

    The members of the Steering Committee agreed that the four strategic priority areas set forth last summer would serve as the basis of the self-study:  (1) Mission, People and Culture; (2) Student Success; (3) Academic Programs; (4) Data Reporting and Forecasting.  The Steering Committee represents a broad range of departments across the campus: faculty representation from across three departments, administrators, and six staff members, the two Co-Chairs of the Middle States Self-Study,  the Assistant Dean of Student Life, Director of Financial Aid, the Registrar and Director of Institutional Research, Associate Vice President for Student Success, Financial Report and Analyst Specialist, Assistant Professor and Director of Weekend Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Nursing Instructor, and Chair of Liberal Arts and Management.  Working group leaders were assigned a particular Standard for Accreditation upon which to focus; a number of the leaders of working groups were assigned to serve as members of the Steering Committee.  

    The working groups met periodically through the 2017-18 self-study year, reviewing data and reports and gathering evidence that Maria College met the Middle States standards and requirements of compliance. These groups prepared draft chapters of the self-study, which were reviewed by the Steering Committee. Feedback was incorporated into subsequent analysis and drafts.

    From May to July 2018, the Co-Chairs reviewed the chapter drafts and incorporated them into a single and comprehensive Self-Study Document.

    At the July 2018 Maria Board of Trustees Retreat, the President updated the Board about the Middles States self study process, as well as offered trustees an opportunity to review and provide input into the document. In early August 2018, trustees were sent a link to the Self Study, as well as an e-mail address where they could send their questions, comments, or suggestions. In early September 2018,  President Gamble reminded trustees to provide feedback for review and incorporation into the next draft.

    In mid-September 2018, the Steering Committee met and received updates on the status of the Self Study, document road map and compliance report. A discussion board was created on Maria Sharepoint site for Self-Study review and feedback.

    In early October 2018, the Maria Community was invited to review the Self-Study and provide comments and feedback.

  • Timeline


    • Fall 2016: Attend Self-Study Institute
    • Establish over arching Self Study Steering Committee, as well as working groups for each of the seven (7) MSCHE standards were established.

    PHASE I: 


    • January – March: Prepare Self-Study Design; Submit draft to MSCHE liaison 
    • March 21: Skype Visit with MSCHE VP liaison Dr. Debra G. Klinman; await comments
    • April – June: Prepare revisions to Self-Study design; Design approved 

    PHASE II: 

    • August Working Groups are charged by Steering Committee; begin work with group members 
    • September – November: Working groups assemble data, documents 
    • December: Update by Co-Chairs 


    • January: Drafts due from Working Groups; feedback given 
    • January – April: Team Chair selected and confirmed 
    • April: Second drafts due from Working Groups;  
    • May – June: Co-Chairs draft and complete Self-Study Document based on drafts by Working Groups 
    • August – September: Review by Board of Trustees of Self-Study; seek comments and feedback; revisions 
    • August – September: Review by Steering Committee and Work Groups of Self-Study; seek comments and feedback; revisions 
    • September – October: Review by community of Self-Study; seek comments and feedback; revisions 
    • October: Updated draft circulated 


    • October : Self-study draft forwarded to Teach Chair in advance of prelim visit 
    • November: Preliminary Visit by Team Chair 
    • December: Verification of Compliance report due 
    • November – January: Revise Self-Study based on Team Chair feedback 


    • February: FINAL VERSION of Self-study finalized; distributed to Middle States Visiting Team 
    • April 7 – 9: Visiting Team on campus 
    • June: Commission meets to determine accreditation action
  • Members

    Steering Committee Members:
    Anne S. Jung, PhD Dean of the College, Chief Academic Officer, Associate Professor, Co-Chair MSCHE Self-Study
    Kari A. Bennett, Registrar and Director of Institutional Research, Co-Chair MSCHE Self-Study

    Victoria L. Battell, RSM, Senior Vice President for Mission and Institutional Advancement, Chief Mission Officer, & Dean of Students
    Andrew Ledoux, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Associate Dean of Students, Title IX Coordinator
    Donna Myers, Director of Financial Aid
    Karyn Shenker-Gould, MA, OTR/L, Weekend OTA Program Director, Associate Professor for OTA program
    Russell Blair, DNP, Associate Chair of Nursing for Administration, Assistant Professor for Nursing AAS program
    Deborah Lee, Financial Report and Budget Analyst

    Work Groups:

    Working Group A: Standard I and II
    Victoria L. Battell, RSM, Senior Vice President for Mission and Institutional Advancement, Chief Mission Officer, & Dean of Students
    Victoria Callaghan, EdD, Associate Chair of Nursing for Curriculum Director, AAS Nursing Program

    Barbara Ruslander, Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts & Management program
    Scott Homer ’95, MS, OTR/L, Director of Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, Assistant Professor, OTA program
    Helen Adams-Keane, Director of Development
    Galen Gomes, PhD, HEOP Director

    Working Group B: Standard III
    Karyn Shenker-Gould, MA, OTR/L, Weekend OTA Program Director, Associate Professor for OTA program
    Russell Blair, DNP, Associate Chair of Nursing for Administration, Assistant Professor for Nursing AAS program

    Jessica Napoli, FNP-BC, Clinical Placement Director and Assistant Professor, Nursing
    Marissa Gitto, Library Director
    Melissa Boles, Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts & Management program
    Meghan DeNitto ’00, BS, COTA/L, CH, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Instructor, OTA program
    Lisa Deserre ’79, BS, COTA/L, Assistant Professor, OTA

    Working Group C: Standard IV
    Donna Myers, Director of Financial Aid

    Jon Coller-Takahashi, Director of Student Support and Opportunity Programs
    Ellen Argust, MS, RN, CNOR, Director of RN-BS Degree in Nursing Completion Program, Assistant Professor
    John Ramoska, Director of Admissions
    Matthew Muller, Assistant Director of Admissions

    Working Group D: Standard V
    Kari Bennett, Registrar, Director of Institutional Research

    Elizabeth Heywood, PhD, RN, Chair, Nursing Department
    Shellie Petrie, Associate Professor, Practical Nurse Certificate program
    Doug Rader, Campus Safety Systems Manager, Instructor, Liberal Arts & Management
    Joseph Castro, PhD, Instructor, Psychology

    Working Group E: Standard VI and VII
    Peter Byrne, PhD, Chair of Liberal Arts & Management, Director of Psychology Program, Professor 
    Anne Devlin, MA, Deputy Chair of Liberal Arts & Management

    Mark Hatlee, Director of IT
    Stephanie Hutchins, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Sciences
    Kathleen Curtin, Administrative Assistant, Nursing
    Laurie Gilmore, Director of Academic Advisement