How does Juilliard promote a climate of academic freedom, freedom of expression, and respect among the various members of its community? What are the key assumptions underlying the School’s multi-year financial plan? Do Juilliard’s financial aid practices adequately support admissions and retention efforts? How are student learning and achievement assessed in general, in specialized areas of the curriculum, and in comparison with student achievement elsewhere?
These and dozens of other questions related to Juilliard’s institutional state of affairs will be the focus of an intensive “self-study” continuing over the next two academic years and culminating, if all goes as planned, in Juilliard’s reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (M.S.C.H.E.) in June 2010. (While reaccreditation normally happens every 10 years, Juilliard requested and was granted a two-year postponement for this cycle, due to the demands of the 2005-06 centennial celebration and building expansion project now underway.)
The process is being guided by a 20-plus member steering committee, with self-study veterans Karen Wagner, vice president and dean of academic affairs, and Jane Gottlieb, vice president for library and information resources, at the helm as co-chairs. Ms. Gottlieb states that she is “enormously pleased to have the chance to work with Karen and our colleagues in other departments on this project of such vital significance to Juilliard’s institutional health.” Preliminary work on the reaccreditation process, which actually takes three years from start to finish, began last year with the appointment of steering committee and task force members; submission of a self-study design to M.S.C.H.E.; and a daylong visit to the School from Dr. Luis Pedraja, Juilliard’s M.S.C.H.E. liaison, last April.
During the coming months, six task forces comprising Juilliard administrators, trustees, faculty members, and students will examine a relevant list of questions developed from the Middle States Standards for Accreditation. Their findings will form the basis of a large-scale report (prepared by me as the designated document writer) that will be circulated to the Juilliard community for feedback before being revised and submitted to M.S.C.H.E. in February 2010. The report will also be read by a team of peer evaluators from other institutions, which will visit Juilliard in April 2010 and then make its recommendation to the commission. Midway through the decade before Juilliard is once again up for reaccreditation, the School is required to submit a “Periodic Review Report” following up on any suggestions or concerns raised by the evaluators.
So why, given the solidity of Juilliard’s reputation, is this time- and labor-intensive process so important—after all, what aspiring young artist would turn down the chance to study here, even if the School weren’t accredited? Pell Grant, anyone? For one thing, accreditation by an agency recognized as reliable by the U.S. Department of Education allows an institution to receive federal grant and financial aid funding. Accreditation also affirms the validity of a Juilliard diploma and gives our students, their parents, and the general public confidence in the quality and integrity of a Juilliard education. Most importantly, the self-study serves as a valuable opportunity for Juilliard to evaluate its success in fulfilling its mission and achieving institutional goals, as well as clarifying its direction for the future. Juilliard has been a proud member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s Association of Colleges and Schools since 1956.
A timeline and general information about the self-study will be available within the next few weeks on the Juilliard Intranet. All members of the Juilliard community are encouraged to stay informed of the process as it unfolds.