Berklee Today

Self Study, Accreditation, and Presidential Succession

Berklee is readying itself for a major 10-year re-accreditation event early in 2003. During the next round of accreditation, one of the most significant items the college will present to the visiting team is the planned retirement in 2004 of President Lee Eliot Berk and the process of hiring his successor as the new president of Berklee College of Music.

Accreditation is the process by which an institution receives certification from an accrediting body that it is operating within the established and accepted practices of that body. The purpose of accreditation is to determine that an institution has a mission, that it has the resources to meet its mission, that it has methods of self-evaluation, and that it can continue to fulfill its mission. In short, accreditation assures that institutions have the structures and conditions for quality. The accreditation process also is helpful to institutions in transition, as Berklee presently is with the prospect of the president's retirement.

Berklee's principal accrediting body is the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), which is part of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Other specialized accrediting bodies certify our Music Education and Music Therapy departments, but our main accreditation comes from the NEASC. We are required to prominently display our accreditation status in our college bulletin.

The NEASC accomplishes accreditation through a process of "peer review" in which a visiting team, composed of faculty, staff, and administrators from similar institutions, conducts a formal site visit. The NEASC visit to Berklee is scheduled for March 30 through April 2, 2003.

In preparation for these visits, all institutions must prepare a self-study that responds to the 11 Standards for Accreditation specified by the CIHE/NEASC. These standards include governing concepts and specifications for compliance in the areas listed below.

  • Mission and purposes. Does our mission define us and vice versa? By what process have we reviewed and updated our mission?

  • Planning and Evaluation

    Is there a system of college-wide planning? How does it work? And, how do we know we are accomplishing our goals, and how do we improve?

  • Organization and Governance
    How is our management accomplished? Is the process effective?

  • Programs and instruction

    Which programs do we offer? How do we review and improve them? How does our faculty stay up-to-date through research? Do we admit students who will succeed and benefit?

  • Faculty

    Are our faculty qualified in the context of the college's mission? Are their working conditions appropriate for effective teaching?

  • Student services

    Are our service and administrative systems supporting student success? How do we know?

  • Library and information resources

    Are our learning resources supportive of the curriculum and of student and faculty research needs? Are Berklee's technological resources effective for instruction and learning?

  • Physical resources

    Do our buildings and other physical aspects support our mission? How do we address and solve the issues we encounter in this area?

  • Financial resources

    Do we have the necessary resources to continue achieving our mission? How do we budget and account for expenses? What about fundraising?

  • Public disclosure

    Are our publications accurate, complete, and sufficient for our purposes?

  • Integrity

    In all college activities, do we strive for a state of wholeness and completeness through honest, ethical, and forthright behavior and conduct?

The self-study must also include an "overview" summarizing the college's accomplishments since its last accreditation visit and its current strengths and concerns. The major issues we have identified for next year's visit include the accommodation of enrollment growth, the use of instructional technology on and off campus particularly with regard to our new Berklee Media endeavor, business and marketing concerns, diversity, and, of course, presidential succession. In effect, the entire self-study process is intended to reflect on the past in support of planning the future.

Before President Berk retires in 2004, his last official act will be to present degrees and diplomas at the 2004 commencement ceremony. The college's board of trustees is responsible for the search and appointment and subsequent oversight of a new college president. Because it represents the current state of the college—what we've done well and what we need to work on—the college's self-study will provide a major resource in the recruiting and interviewing process.

The documentation will contain an updated mission statement to lead the institution forward, and the trustees will have the benefit of the self-study and the new mission statement. The presidential search process, to be carried out during the 2003-2004 academic year, will be designed to identify and hire a qualified successor. More specific information on the search will be made available through a board-appointed spokesperson.