Last week Bowdoin held its preliminary meeting for its upcoming reaccreditation, a process the College goes through every 10 years in which the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) recertifies the College as an educational institution.

Bowdoin was due for reaccreditation last year but received a deferral due to the induction of President Clayton Rose. Previous reaccreditations have led to the adoption of the College House system in conjunction with the abolition of fraternities as well as the implementation of distribution requirements within the College’s curriculum.

The reaccreditation process is centered on a self-study by the College, which gives it the chance to reevaluate itself in regard to nine standards published by NEASC. This self-reflection makes up the vast majority of the process and is collected at the end in a 100-page report, which is then released to the Bowdoin community for feedback and sent to NEASC. Then, a committee from the accrediting organization comes and conducts an inspection.

The committee conducting the self-study within Bowdoin will be co-chaired by Vice President for Institutional Research, Analytics and Consulting Tina Finneran and Dean for Academic Affairs Jen Scanlon. While the exact structure of the committee is still uncertain, according to Scanlon, the committee will be consulting not only with faculty but also staff and students in order to address their concerns about the future of the College.

Once the internal examination is complete, the report is sent for inspection to a NEASC committee.

“In the end, the final self-study will be given to that team before they visit, and then they come on site, and it’s sort of a ground truthing—‘Here’s what they said. Let’s meet with folks and understand Bowdoin better and confirm that what they stated in this document is accurate,’” said Finneran.

This NEASC committee is typically chaired by a member of a peer institution. Other members of the committee include faculty from other schools to examine the academics and chief financial officers to inspect the finances of the College.

“In many ways, it’s a peer review with the oversight of the accrediting agency,” Finneran said. Bowdoin will be inspected by the NEASC committee from November 5 to 8 in 2017.

After the completion of the reaccreditation process, Bowdoin maintains a relationship with NEASC, reporting its progress on achieving the goals outlined in the self-study. This relationship manifests in a five-year update that the College publishes between reaccreditations to update NEASC on its progress.

The standards used by NEASC in its accreditation are divided into nine categories, such as Organization and Governance, Academic Program and Integrity, Transparency and Public Disclosure. A new set of standards was approved earlier this year.

“One of the things that you’ll see in the standards is much more of a focus on outcomes and this idea of evidence—how do you know that a student has learned what a Biology major should learn?” said Finneran.

Finneran highlighted a standard adopted in this year’s edition which ensures colleges are transparent regarding their use of student records. She believes this is especially key as colleges transition into digital recordkeeping over hard copy files.

James Little contributed to this report.