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Why We Should Care about Middle States – Standards 2 and 7

Dr. Jennifer Wood and Andy Welaish relate ethics to student learning outcomes.

This is the first in a series of articles on the progress of the Middle States working groups. The purpose is to introduce the campus community to the work of each group as they prepare for a Middle States team visit to campus in 2020. Dr. Jennifer Wood, associate professor of communication & theatre, and Andy Welaish, director of library operations, are the co-chairs looking at Standard 2 – Ethics and Integrity; and Standard 7 – Governance, Leadership and Administration.

“Students should be quite interested in our findings on ethics and integrity,” says Welaish. “It’s about respect for academic freedom so that students are able to fully explore their discipline, even if their inquiry leads them to areas of controversy or to conclusions that might be contrary to popular opinion. It also means a climate of mutual respect that facilitates learning; where diverse backgrounds, ideas and perspectives enrich scholarly inquiry and thus enhance the opportunities for learning.”

Ethics and integrity are important tenets of a successful university. Wood had this to say about the efforts of this working group, “Millersville University is committed to inspiring learners to grow intellectually and personally. Through this standard, internal and external activities are examined to be sure policies are not only in place but are adhered to, that contracts and commitments are honored, and that the University represents itself truthfully.”

Standard 7 on Governance, Leadership and Administration also relates to students. “Although students may not think about this at regular intervals, the mission of the University is actualized through its governing and administrative structures,” says Wood. “Thus, there are real people behind the mission who engage in conversations, activities and even advocacy to build and maintain an atmosphere where intellectual and personal growth may be realized.”

“It’s about fulfilling the commitment we have to students through our institutional mission and EPPIIC values,” says Welaish.

Wood says the standard on governance touches everyone on campus. “Faculty and staff may be assured that there are expectations for effective structures, policies and procedures to ensure that several layers of integrity are in place to (a) safeguard academic and intellectual freedom, (b) maintain efficient mechanisms to handle grievances, and (c) consistently provide an environment that strives to facilitate fair employee practices and avoid conflicts of interest. In addition, they may be assured that there are expectations that governance is transparent, that advisory roles in governance do not simply exist but they are useful and beneficial to student success.”

At the end of the day both Wood and Welaish say they want to show that through a collaborative process there was an honest and analytical review of Millersville University’s continual commitment to integrity, transparency, respect and inclusivity, accountability and ethics to help ensure that all are working toward the common goal of supporting student learning in fulfillment of our institutional mission and EPPIIC values. And, they also are working to make sure the University is reaccredited.

The next step for the working group is to finalize their research on the lines of inquiry. The lines of inquiry were designed to explore the institutional priorities and theme to help Millersville advance its strategic plan.

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