Middle States Commission Lauds HWS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Middle States Commission Lauds HWS

Hobart and William Smith have received an outstanding accreditation report indicating that the Colleges have fulfilled all standards and characteristics of excellence. “Hobart and William Smith are clearly a first-rate institution deeply committed to transformational student learning, important research and discovery, holistic student growth, artistic and aesthetic experience, and powerful local, regional and global impacts,” the report states. The evaluation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a required assessment of the Colleges’ operations, outcomes and educational approach.

Chaired by Franklin & Marshall College President Daniel R. Porterfield, representatives of the Commission conducted an extensive campus visit and review, noting “with great admiration the cultures of aspiration, respect, inclusiveness, striving, academic freedom, shared governance and civility that define this community.”

“We were impressed by the sense of community and common purpose that define the Hobart and William Smith experience,” says Porterfield. “In particular, we observed a deep appreciation for the life of the mind, dedication to educating students with global competencies, a collective commitment to service and to Geneva, outstanding and remarkably committed presidential leadership, and an integrity that is shared across the Colleges.”

Since the last Middle States reaccreditation, the team reported, Hobart and William Smith “have enhanced academic quality, expanded the faculty, improved campus resources and facilities, strengthened its competitive position, completed a successful $205 million campaign, contributed creatively to Geneva, developed signature programs in co-curricular learning, and nurtured its tradition and engagement of alums — all while weathering extremely well the national financial difficulties of the past six years.”

The Colleges earned the Commission’s praise in particular for “success at offering students significant learning opportunities outside of the classroom,” both internationally and locally. The report cited that more than half of HWS students study abroad “at a range of carefully vetted programs and institutions, and the Colleges are intentional and thorough at orienting students to study outside of the United States before they go abroad. They are just as intentional at helping students draw on their experiences abroad when they return to Hobart and William Smith-for their own ongoing development, as well as for the good of the institution as a whole.”

The report offers the Commission’s admiration for “the Colleges’ investment in Geneva. Students volunteer, intern and take courses that include work in Geneva, which gives their liberal arts studies a ‘real world’ context and forum for application, while benefitting the community and enhancing town-gown relations. Accordingly, Hobart and William Smith seem to see Geneva as a resource worth protecting and supporting through initiatives that are designed to improve the public schools and enhance the economic health of the City of Geneva.”

The Colleges also received significant praise for its responsiveness to previous Middle States review recommendations toward “fostering a culture of assessment…. the progress made so far is noteworthy and important,” the evaluation reports. “In addition, the team observes that Hobart and William Smith have sought to create greater equity in student conduct and judicial processes by creating a Division of Student Life and hiring a Vice President of Student Affairs. This division is arguably doing some of the best assessment work at the institution.”

“Through the self-study report and site visit, the representatives of Middle States observed a highly functioning team of faculty and staff whose purpose remains, as it has since the founding of the Colleges, to prepare students to lead lives of consequence,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “I am grateful to those who worked so diligently on the self-study and to all members of our community who strive each day for excellence as we educate students for the 21st century.” 

HWS completed a self-study report and in March 2014 hosted on campus a delegation from the Middle States Commission, which provided the basis for the evaluation conducted by a team of administrators and faculty from Franklin & Marshall College, the College of Wooster, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Notre Dame of Maryland University, King’s College, Dickinson College and Juniata College.

“I am appreciative of the hard work and time of the many faculty, students and staff across the Colleges who participated in the self-study report and site visit,” says Provost and Dean of Faculty Titi Ufomata. “I am especially grateful for the leadership and diligence of the HWS self-study co-chairs – Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus and Associate Professor of English Anna Creadick – whose guidance structured our work and led to this positive conclusion.” 

A voluntary, non-governmental, membership association, the Middle States Commission is dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through accreditation via peer evaluation. Middle States accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance, and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement.