2018 MSCHE Annual Conference a Success

With more than 1,200 attendees descending on Washington, DC, the 2018 Annual Conference presented by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education wrapped up three days of sessions at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel from Nov. 28-30, 2018.

Following morning and afternoon pre-conference workshops on Nov. 28, the Annual Conference officially launched with a plenary session by noted higher education authors Dr. Kevin Kinser (Pennsylvania State University) and Dr. Susan D. Phillips (University at Albany–SUNY). Their talk, “Accreditation on the Edge,” delved into the perfect storm facing the higher education and accreditation environments in the United States and how reforms could make an impact in strengthening, if not re-envisioning the system for the 21st Century. Immediately following the keynote, all attendees were invited to a welcome reception and the opening of the Exhibit Hall.

To begin the full day of sessions on Nov. 29, attendees heard from plenary speaker Dr. Susan Whealler Johnston, President and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), about “Engaging Your Board in the Accreditation Process: Why and How.” Dr. Johnston noted the disconnect between faculty and boards of trustees, and presented ideas for how institutions can do better to engage those groups in the accreditation process.

Throughout the remainder of the day, attendees shuffled between some of the 30-plus concurrent sessions available throughout the Conference that highlighted the breadth of accreditation expertise within the MSCHE region. Sessions presented by member institutions provided best practices from building an institutional assessment plan to communication strategies for multi-campus institutions and many more topics.

Attendees on the final day of the Conference on Nov. 30 heard from Dr. Terry W. Hartle, Senior Vice President at the American Council on Education, on “Assessing the Rapidly Changing Higher Education Landscape.” Dr. Hartle recapped the current political climate and its impact on higher education. He provided the memorable line that “people who use PowerPoint have neither power nor a point” that was tweeted numerous times through the MSCHE18 Conference hashtag.

2019 Annual Conference

As the Conference came to a close, the Commission presented its first session given entirely in Spanish—”Cómo Realizar en Forma Exitosa el Proceso de Cambio Sustancial de MSCHE”—while the English version of “How to Successfully Navigate the Substantive Change Process” was given at the same time in another room.

Attendees enjoyed the Exhibit Hall, which was home to more than 30 exhibitors, throughout the Conference and which also served as a gathering spot for snacks and meals. The MSCHE booth was a destination for current and prospective Peer Evaluators.

As part of the Conference, the Commission also hosted a breakfast prior to the morning keynotes for presidents and provosts as well as accreditation liaison officers.

Preparations are already underway for the 2019 Annual Conference which will launch with the theme Innovating for Student Success: New Ideas, Practices, and Services in Higher Education from Dec. 9-11, 2019, in Philadelphia. A call for presentations will be sent in late February 2019.