With increased emphasis on student affairs’ contribution to student learning, increasing numbers of student affairs educators are being called upon to participate in the regional accreditation process. With accreditation processes taking place once a decade and recent revisions in the standards for regional accrediting bodies focusing on student learning, student affairs educators are often not equipped with the knowledge and skills to maximize the opportunity that accreditation presents divisions of student affairs. Without these skills and knowledge, this opportunity is lost and student affairs educators merely “endure and get through” the process.
While there are differences in accreditation standards and processes across regional accrediting bodies, there are many common themes that student affairs educators can benefit from exploring. In order to maximize the opportunity of accreditation, we need to understand the process of accreditation, including how to prepare for the process not only to address the standards of the regional accrediting body but also to strategically position the division in the institution with regard to priorities and resources. It is important to be able to document how student needs are addressed as well as how student learning is fostered and institutional effectiveness is assessed. Accreditation provides an opportunity to demonstrate the division’s contributions in these areas. This monograph affords student affairs educators the opportunity to broaden their understanding of accreditation and the possibilities therein.
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