Accreditation Team to Visit Harvard

* Educators will critique quality of FAS academics

From November 16 to 19, an accreditation team of nine educators from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges will decide if a Harvard diploma is worth the parchment it's printed on.

Although Harvard officials say they aren't nervous about losing accreditation, the team will offer an extensive evaluation that could be useful until the next accreditation process in 2007.

"The evaluation team is helpful to us by giving us suggestions that we might not otherwise have thought of," said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Jeffrey Wolcowitz.

In 1987, some of those suggestions included increased Faculty input in curricular decisions and an expansion of the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement.

Ten years later, Harvard has developed the Education Policy Committee, a curricula review team made up of Faculty members. Harvard also recently decided to make a quantitative reasoning course part of the Core requirements.

The evaluation team is chaired by Harold Shapiro, president of Princeton University. Members include deans, presidents and other officials from institutions including Yale, Brown, MIT and Dartmouth.

The evaluation team will examine the entire University, but it will focus particularly on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and undergraduate education.

Most of the professional schools are reviewed regularly by their respective professional societies, according to Dean Whitla, special consultant to the dean of the College.

To facilitate the evaluation, Harvard officials have prepared a self-study of different programs and curricula, Wolcowitz said. Part of the 93-page review will be available on the world wide web this week at www.fas.harvard.edu/harv-reaccred-report97.

The accreditation team will also receive Harvard course materials and literature from many different sectors of the University, from financial officers to the Core committee.

After reviewing all these materials, the group will visit Harvard later this month and meet with officials, Faculty and students.

"I think accreditation reviews are a good time for us to reflect on what we are as a university and how we are doing in meeting our goals," Wolcowitz said. "It's always helpful to get feedback in what can be done better."