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Kean University on Track to Come Off Accreditation Probation, OCC President Says

Follow-up inspection receives positive response from Middle States committee, Larson says

Kean University has passed "a significant hurdle" in its bid to be reaccredited, Ocean County College President Jon H. Larson told the OCC Board of Trustees on Monday.

"It isn't done until it's done," he told the trustees, "but they are on a positive track."

Kean, which is partnering with Ocean County College on a program called Kean@Ocean that will allow students to complete a bachelor's or a master's program while taking all of their courses at OCC's Toms River campus, was put on probationary accreditation status this summer by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education for failing to meet four of the commission's 14 standards.

Kean, which began undergoing its most recent accreditation review last year, was put on probation in June when, according to Middle States officials, the university had failed to address adequately a list of issues the accreditation inspection team had listed. 

Larson and other OCC officials met with Dawood Farahi, Kean's president, during the summer to express OCC's concerns about the situation, Larson has said previously. The positive response from Middle States to its most recent investigation is a step in the right direction, Larson said.

Larson said the Middle States commission is expected to hold a final vote in November that Larson said should move Kean away from probation status.

The primary issues Kean faced related to what Larson called learning outcomes assessment and academic integrity.

The learning outcomes assessment is something a number of colleges and universities have struggled with, Larson said.

"Some schools haven't taken it seriously enough," Larson said, in part because there is a feeling among some that having to document outside of what's contained in a course or program syllabus felt like an unnecessary redundancy to some in the academic community.

Threats of federal intervention if colleges ignored the demands to show ways of measuring learning outcomes has gotten many to follow through, however, Larson said.

"It needs to be done to forestall federal interference," he said. Larson agreed that the rising cost of higher education has played a role in the demand for standards to judge the effectiveness of a university.

"It's one thing to get nothing out of it (college courses) and feel like you didn't spend much money," he said. "It's another to say 'my family went into serious debt and there's nothing to show for it.' "

With regard to the integrity issues at Kean, Larson said a labor dispute was behind at least some of it, and Kean has taken strides toward cultivating a sense of openness that allows people to feel there is equitable treatment of everyone.

The university has pulled together, Larson said. "All parties have come together and agreed to act more collegially," he said.

"Middle States wanted to see all members of the instituion pulling in the same direction," he said.

Ocean County College is beginning its self review process for its own accreditation review with the Middle States commission. Larson said campus visits by Middle States reviewers will likely begin in early 2013.

barbara September 25, 2012 at 03:16 PM
There is a misconception about students being allowed to take "all their classes" for a Kean degree at the OCC campus. Ask most students and they will tell you there are limited classes available at OCC. And after a few unrewarding attempts to get advice regarding classes or transfer options, my kids decided to pursue other options. Kean really has to step up their efforts if they want to be considered a real option for Ocean County students.
ed crowley September 25, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Why is the President of OCC speaking for Kean?
none of yobusiness September 25, 2012 at 11:13 PM
I agree with you Barbara. My Wife is enrolled at Kean OCC and she has been taking more classes in Union than in Toms River. I wish they would make all classes available here, the commute is alot for her.
Bowie Thelonius September 25, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Good question.
none of your business 2 September 26, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Why partner with a loser? You lay down with dogs, you get fleas. Someone is not to be trusted, somewhere. This is like crowing "my husband got blind blackout drunk at the 4th of July party, made a pass at my best friend, and wrecked our car, and the car is almost out of the shop, so I'm almost ready to commute, how positive, by gosh and golly gee horse whiskers." Why crow about something so, minor...is .. the .. news .. really that b l e a k down the hide the money rabbit hole?
wmontmom September 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM
With a good answer: Larson is the OCC president and was providing an update on the situation with its partner Kean University to his institution's trustees. The meeting must have been open to the public and was covered by Patch. The OCC President is not "speaking for Kean."
Lynn November 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I am confident Kean will be reaccredited by the holidays there's too much @ stake..Kean should want to assure students & the community they are addressing critical issues such as student assessment & should be providing periodic updates to New Jerseyans who want honesty & transparency.

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