Succession Planning Mission Statement and Accreditation Higher Education Literature Review

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¶ … sizes are faced with many of the same challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining qualified candidates, and these challenges are particularly acute in higher educational institutions where the fundamental mission and type of leadership team are different from the private sector in ways that preclude the wholesale application of industry best practices. Despite these constraints, it is possible to identify those aspects of private sector practices that can be used to good effect in educational settings, making a review of the current literature in these areas an important and timely enterprise. To this end, this chapter provides a review of the juried literature concerning accreditation in higher education to gain some fresh insights in this area, followed by a discussion concerning the purpose and importance of mission statements. Finally, an in-depth examination of the need for more effective succession planning is presented, including an examination of the respective advantages and disadvantages that have been associated with the practice in public and private sector settings.

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TOPIC: Literature Review on Succession Planning Mission Statement and Accreditation Higher Education Assignment

During the early part of the 20th century, a number of professions became the focus of accreditation to help instill a sense of confidence and integrity and to provide timely guidance concerning best practices and expectations (Barker & Smith, 1988). According to Barker and Smith, "Accreditation on a nationwide basis can trace its roots to the beginning of [the 20th] century. It came into being from a meeting of the National Association of State Universities in 1906. In 1909, the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools drew up standards to accredit colleges, and specialization accreditation had its start when the American Medical Association developed a rating system for medical schools in 1905" (p. 742). Accreditation is defined by Eaton (2009) as being "a process of external quality review created and used by higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities, and programs for quality assurance and quality improvement [that] emerged from concerns to protect public health and safety and to serve the public interest" (p. 79).

Since its introduction more than a century ago, a number of accreditation agencies have been created in response to this need, including those for institutions of higher education. Likewise, scholars formulated systems of accreditation that can be used by educational institutions that include mission, organization, administration, relations with students, standards of progress, financial relations, student services, educational activities, educational facilities, and publications (Barker & Smith, 1988). In an educational context, there are four main types of accrediting organizations as follows:

1. Regional accreditors. These accredit public and private, mainly nonprofit and degree-granting, two- and four-year institutions;

2. National faith-related accreditors. These accredit religiously affiliated and doctrinally based institutions, mainly nonprofit and degree granting;

3. National career-related accreditors. These accredit mainly for-profit, career-based, single-purpose institutions, both degree and non-degree;

4. Programmatic accreditors. Finally, these are responsible for accrediting specific programs, professions and free-standing schools, such as law, medicine, engineering, and the health professions (Eaton, 2009).

Currently, 80 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations that are recognized by the educational community operate in the United States (Eaton, 2009). It is important to point out, though, that these organizations were formed in response to and with the support of the educational community rather than the government (Eaton, 2009). With respect to the part played by the accreditation process, Eaton (2009) cites four primary roles:

1. To provide quality assurance. Accreditation is the primary means by which colleges, universities, and programs assure quality to students and the public. Accredited status is a signal to students and the public that an institution or program meets at least threshold standards regarding, for example, its faculty, curriculum, student services, and libraries. Accredited status is conveyed only if institutions and programs provide evidence of fiscal stability.

2. To provide access to federal and state funds. Accreditation is required for access to federal funds such as student aid and other federal programs. Federal student aid funds are available to students only if the institution or program they are attending is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization. The federal government awarded more than $86 billion in student grants and loans in 2006 -- 2007.

3. To engender private sector confidence in higher education. The accreditation status of an institution or program is important to employers when evaluating the credentials of job applicants and when deciding whether to provide tuition support for current employees seeking additional education. Private individuals and foundations look for evidence of accreditation when making decisions about private giving.

4. Accreditation exercises an important role in easing transfer. Accreditation is important to students for smooth transfer of courses and programs among colleges and universities. Receiving institutions take note of whether the credits a student wishes to transfer have been earned at an accredited institution. Although accreditation is but one among several factors that receiving institutions take into account, it is viewed carefully and is considered an important indicator of quality (Eaton, 2009, p. 81)..

The systematic approach to accreditation created a fairly complacent environment that was characterized by layers of bureaucracy that hampered innovation and precluded any changes that were not in strict conformance with accreditation standards, even if industry best practices demanded otherwise because the accreditation survey was far distant in the future. For example, Bardo reports that, "It was only a few years ago that regional accreditation was an episode in a higher education institution's life. Every ten years, the institution would gear up for a self-study; the accrediting team would visit; the institution would provide final responses; accreditation would be voted; and the institution would 'return to normal'" (p. 47). Similarly, Brittingham (2009) describes the traditional accreditation process that was used just a few years ago thusly: "The basics are well-known: a set of standards, a self-study, a review by peers, and a decision from a commission" (p. 7).

These "good old days," though, are now gone, though. For example, Volkwein (2010) recently observed that, "At most universities, it seems as if there is an unending stream of self-study documents and site visit teams from regional, state, and discipline-based bodies" (p. 3). Indeed, Bardo (2009) emphasizes that in an era of increasing calls for accountability on the part of educators at all levels, the burden involved in remaining accredited will become far more onerous, with a corresponding need for improved approaches to implementing and integrating change throughout the organization that satisfies accreditation requirements. Indeed, Bardo (2009) points out that today, "Presidents and chancellors can expect to have their institutions under nearly continuous scrutiny by regional accrediting bodies. The number of reports, the expected details of outcomes measures, and the level of ongoing interaction between the institution and the regional association will continue to increase" (p. 47). In fact, Bardo (2009) suggests that recent trends indicate that educational accreditation agencies will likely require even more frequently reporting by educational institutions, perhaps as frequently as annually, across a broad array of performance standards and indicators that will make the process even more challenging for educators struggling to do more with less.

Mission Statement

Organizations of all types and sizes have followed industry best practices in recent years by formulating mission statements that are intended to reflect their institutional imperatives, values and goals in ways that are aligned with the interests of the various stakeholders, a process that has been met with less than universal acceptance. Typically, proponents of mission statements proceed with their arguments in support of the practice based on the presumption that they are a valuable enterprise that must be followed to conform to stakeholder expectations (Morphew & Hartley, 2008). In this regard, Lake and Mrozinksi (2011) recently reported that, "Over the last 40 years, the mission statement has been consistently viewed as an indispensable management tool for organizations in both the public and private sectors" (p. 5). Given this proliferation in use, it is not surprising that many organizations accept the need for a mission statement at face value without scrutinizing the fundamental need for the practice from the outset. For example, Sidhu (2003) emphasizes that, "A mission statement has long been argued to lead to better performance by aiding strategy formulation and implementation. Empirical evidence to support this argument is however lacking in the literature" (p. 439).

Given this lack of supporting evidence, formulating an effective mission statement becomes especially challenging for institutions of higher education that are struggling to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. In their study, "Mission Possible: Enabling Good Work in Higher Education," Berg, Csikszentmihalyi, and Mihaly (2003) examine ways that institutions can reevaluate their missions in order to better align them with their fundamental values and goals as well as the requirements established by regulatory and accrediting organizations. According to Berg and his associates, "Associated with the domain of higher education is a social field made up of gatekeepers, such as accrediting agencies, who judge the performance of colleges and universities and evaluate the organizational, curricular, pedagogical, and other developments introduced into the domain. Alignment exists when the version of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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