Virtual SSI Begins Self-Study Process for 69 Institutions 

Building on the first virtual Self-Study Institute (SSI) in 2020, the Middles States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) launched its 2021 SSI with 68 currently accredited institutions and one candidate institution over the course of five weeks from October 5 and ends on November 16. 

A self-study requires an institution to engage in an in-depth, comprehensive, and reflective assessment process to identify institutional priorities as well as opportunities for improvement and innovation. SSI helps member institutions prepare for the self-study process that ultimately leads to granting or reaffirmation of accreditation. 

“The exciting part of SSI is that participants begin to prepare for their self-study process by working on the development of their Self-Study Design,” said MSCHE Vice President for Institutional Field Relations Dr. Idna Corbett. “To aid institutions, each participant received a set of materials especially prepared for them.” 

Generally, the self-study process begins about two years before an institution submits its Self-Study Report. Colleges and universities at this year’s SSI will be evaluated in 2023-2024. Through the self-study process, the institution must provide evidence and document compliance with the Commission’s standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, and federal compliance requirements.  

“After SSI, preparation for self-study will continue with individualized sessions for each institution with their respective Vice President liaison and as well as the Self-Study Preparation Visit beginning this spring,” said MSCHE Vice President for Institutional Field Relations Dr. Robert A. Bonfiglio. 

The virtual environment allowed for more people from each institution to participate in SSI than when it was held in-person. The 2021 SSI saw more than 550 individuals take advantage of the opportunity over the course of five plenary sessions and access to seven pre-recorded sessions. In addition, a limited number of individuals from each institution had focused sessions during SSI with their MSCHE Vice President liaison. 

“Throughout SSI, participants had the opportunity to hear from representatives from institutions that had recently been reaffirmed after completing self-study or are in the advanced stages of preparation for the Self-Study Evaluation Visit,” said Lead Vice President Dr. Ellie Fogarty. “We cannot begin to thank our co-facilitators enough for sharing their valuable insights with their peers. It speaks to the collaborative community of peers in higher education.”  

Co-Facilitators included: 

Name  Institution  Title 
Dr. Jen Bacon  West Chester University  Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities 
Mr. Christopher Choncek  Point Park University  Associate Vice President of Institutional Research and Planning 
Dr. Marin Clarkberg  Cornell University  Associate Vice Provost, Institutional Research and Planning 
Ms. Catherine (Cathy) Fennell  Haverford College  Director of Institutional Research 
Dr. Illana Lane  Medaille College  Chief Assessment and Learning Officer 
Dr. Marina Malamud  Inter-American Defense College  Licensure and Accreditation Manager 
Dr. Alycia Marshall  Ann Arundel Community College  Associate Vice President, Learning & Academic Affairs 
Dr. Anthony Rivera  Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR) Bayamon Campus  Dean of Academic Affairs 
Dr. Stefanie Schwalm  West Chester University  Associate Provost for Accreditation and Assessment 


In recorded remarks to SSI participants, MSCHE President Dr. Heather Perfetti summarized the SSI experience that “ultimately results in a strengthened higher education community. In that regard, I want to say that as president I look forward to working with [our] institutions as we continue to leverage the value of peer review, celebrate the work of our institutions, improve the student experience, and reiterate the many benefits of higher education.  All of you – along with all of our institutions – are engaging in incredible, innovative practices, and I am proud that individually and collectively we will continue to demonstrate all that is good and honorable about higher education.”