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Team reviews Institute programs

By Neil J. Ross

A 10-member team, headed by Cornell President Frank Rhodes, arrived on campus yesterday to handle the accreditation review of MIT by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The team, which was selected by NEASC after consultation with MIT, will be on campus until Thursday.

As one of the six regional accreditation agencies around the nation recognized by the US Department of Education, NEASC is responsible for the standards of the member institutions in the six New England states. Recognized also by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation and with 200 member institutes of higher education, NEASC must carry out about 20 comprehensive reviews of its membership each year and about 15 smaller studies. MIT is accredited also by national professional organizations in architecture, chemistry, engineering, and business.

Amy Lezberg, assistant director of the Commission of Institutions of Higher Education (the higher education branch of NEASC), described the purpose of reaccreditation as twofold: firstly to assess the given institution; and secondly to act as consultants, providing an expert team with a fresh viewpoint on the institution's policies.

The MIT accreditation team will split into two groups, and so the visit will consist of two parallel sequences of sessions. One group will take a close look at academic computing and Project Athena, but will also include in its brief enrollment patterns and library usage. The Undergraduate Curriculum Review is the subject for in-depth consideration for the other group. This second group will also consider financial and budgeting questions. Kathryn Lombardi, executive assistant to the president and director of Public Relations Services at MIT, who helped to coordinate the team's schedule, said "We are looking to the people in the team for their perspective on these areas."

Preparations for the visit began last December; but reaccreditation for NEASC members takes place every 10 years. The team is expected to have a draft report completed before the end of their stay.

The groups will have ample opportunity to meet with and talk to students. But team member, John Robinson, dean of student life at Brown, asked for additional time to discuss the issues of race relations, substance abuse, and fraternities with students. Robinson, Janet Ackerman of Yale, and Frances Volkmann of Smith College, have all acted as assessors in similar visits to other NEASC institutions.