NU prepares to be reevaluated, reaches out to Senate
    Jenny Puchtel, Manager of the Accreditation Process in the Office of the Provost, talked to ASG about the upcoming re-accreditation review and how ASG can engage in the process. Photo by Alex Furuya

    Senators tackled the subject of re-accreditation Wednesday evening, discussing what the next evaluation process will look like for Northwestern in April 2015.

    Jenny Puchtel, manager of the accreditation process in the Office of the Provost, explained how the process, which takes place every 10 years, will look for students and the university.

    The evaluation checks Northwestern's ability to give students proper resources and maintain a certain level of academic quality.

    This stamp of approval, given by the Higher Learning Commission, is required by the Department of Education in order for the university to received Title IV financial aid federal loans.

    The re-accreditation process involves the submission of two written reports from Northwestern, as well as seven reviews submitted by individuals from other institutions, who will be visiting Northwestern's campus on April 27 and 28 to evaluate the campus and talk to staff, faculty and students.

    Puchtel reached out to students to give them the opportunity to become involved in the re-accreditation process, to help both before the evaluation and during the peer visits.  Students can connect with the Office of the Provost, which is managing preparations for the various components of the review, and participate in an open forum session to talk about their experiences at Northwestern.

    "It is certainly a time to be honest and also to explain what you enjoy about being here as a student," Puchtel said.

    Student ambassadors are also needed to accompany the viewers around campus from building to building and offer insights into "our students, what brought you here, what you like and what you don't like," Putchel said.

    The written reports, submitted by the University, will articulate how Northwestern meets particular criteria, such as student outcome after graduation and the success of offered programs.

    Specific schools within Northwestern will also undergo specialized evaluations to maintain program-specific accreditation.

    Students questioned how the diversity of Northwestern would be considered in the reports.

    "The way that the criteria integrates diversity is that they ask how our mission and commitment to our mission reflects the commitment to society," Puchtel said. "We are working to improve in certain areas but we are very proud in the changes we've made over the last decade."

    ASG Executive Vice President Erik Zorn also announced his proposed resolution that he will be lobbying for the return of the Illinois Monetary Award Program grants, a source of funding that is awarded each year to a number of students from the state of Illinois, which were cut by Gov. Bruce Rauner.  MAP funds allowed colleges and universities to spend less on financial aid for MAP recipients, permitting a greater number of Illinois students to pursue college degrees.  

    Zorn will be lobbying the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner in Springfield, Illinois, in April to receive receive greater support for MPA grants in the state budget and ensure a more stable future for the funding.  Other universities within the state of Illinois have passed similar resolutions, however it's a bigger trend at public universities, said President Julia Watson.


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