Every 10 years the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) conducts an in-depth review of virtually all aspects of The Jewish Theological Seminary for the purpose of reaccreditation. The review, starting with a wide-ranging process of "Self-Study," began in fall 2013 and will culminate with a visit from a Middle States' team of peer evaluators toward the end of spring 2016. The Self-Study process is an opportunity for JTS to evaluate its academic, governance, and operational components, assessing strengths and identifying areas for improvement. It allows the opportunity to ask, "What do we do? How do we know it? How do we show it?"
Specifically, the JTS campus community aims, collectively, to achieve the following results through the process of Self-Study:
In order to explore virtually all aspects of JTS as part of the Self-Study process, a basic two-part organizational structure has been established: the Self-Study Executive Committee (four people) and a larger Self-Study Steering Committee. The Steering Committee includes the Executive Committee and the co-chairs of six work groups. Each work group comprises a diverse representation of members of the JTS community, and is tasked with addressing one to three of the 14 Middle States' Standards of Accreditation organized around the following themes:
"Who We Are"
"The Student Experience"
Each work group will review the extent to which JTS demonstrates compliance with Middle States' Standards and will identify critical issues and suggestions for improvement. JTS work group plans, including a list of work group members, a timetable, and templates for reporting were compiled into a Self-Study Design Document which was submitted to MSCHE on May 1, 2014, and approved following Middle States' Vice President Dr. Tito Guerrero's (JTS liaison) site visit on May 14, 2014. Those plans include a "charge" for each group, explaining the group's theme and primary "assignment," and a list of research questions to guide research and analysis. In addition, each group developed a preliminary index of materials to be used for its research.
The actual research and analysis phases of Self-Study will commence in fall 2014 and will continue through the spring 2015 semester. Work group reports will be compiled into a single report, with a first draft completed at the end of summer 2015. The final Self-Study is due in spring 2016, in time for the Middle States' peer evaluation that will take place at JTS over several days. We will then look forward to the Middle States Commission's review of our Self-Study document and site visit, anticipating the MSCHE reaccreditation report during the summer of 2016.
There will be a number of opportunities over the next two years for virtually every member of the JTS community—students, staff, faculty, trustees, administration, alumni, and supporters—to be involved in some aspect of our Self-Study, whether by participation in a Self-Study work group subcommittee, completing relevant survey forms, being consulted by work group members, or reacting to Self-Study documents. We expect this entire undertaking to be a fruitful one, guiding the process of self-reflection and assessment. We also know it will be both meaningful and useful to those committed to the vitality of JTS for many years to come.
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JTS Self-Study documents:
Middle States Self-Study Design Document, 2014 (PDF)
Work Groups (PDF)
Middle States Resources: