Description of the Self-Study Process

A 20-person steering committee—which included faculty, senior administrators, staff, and students—and two working groups reporting to the steering committee examined assessment practices at the University, and their reports form the basis of this self-study. A third group was formed to demonstrate compliance with those standards and fundamental elements not covered in this self-study by developing the Document Road Map (Appendix A4).

Working Group I—Using Assessment to Improve the Student Experience—was charged with examining the extent to which assessment of programs, activities, and plans has assisted the institution in improving the student experience, both within and outside the classroom, on all five campuses.

Working Group II—Using Assessment to Improve Institutional Effectiveness—was charged with examining the extent to which assessment of programs, activities, plans, and processes has contributed to the advancement of the University’s academic goals.

Working Group III was to prepare a document road map that listed all the primary supporting documentation and an annotation for each standard.

Different approaches were taken by the three working groups. The group on institutional effectiveness interviewed the key leaders in each review area. In the student experience group, the composition of the committee itself was designed to include the necessary expertise on the topic. The third group’s members were chosen based on their experience with specialized accreditations that gave them familiarity with the process but not necessarily the University of Pittsburgh approach.

The working groups met numerous times over the course of a year and prepared detailed reports of their findings and recommendations, providing the basis for the final development of the self-study, which was overseen by the steering committee. During the extended period of the development of the self-study, a number of presentations were made and discussions were held with a variety of University groups and organizations, including the Council of Deans, Faculty Assembly, University Senate Educational Policies Committee, Academic Affairs and Libraries Committee of the Board of Trustees, and various Boards of Visitors.

In the fall of 2011, the leaders of constituency groups—including faculty, staff, and students as well as senior administrators—were sent a draft of the self-study, asked to share the document with appropriate members of their units, and asked to submit comments and revisions. The self-study was made available in January 2012 to the entire University community on all campuses through the University portal in the self-study community prior to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education visitation. Several articles in the University Times and the Pitt Chronicle covered accreditation during this period (Appendix A5).