Growth is the hallmark of Towson University. From the burgeoning student population, increased demand for educational offerings, and increased number of new faculty to the expansion of the campus itself, Towson is experiencing unparalleled growth and, as a consequence, the challenges associated with transformative change. The future success of the university will require innovation, imagination, adaptability, nimbleness, and determination. In selecting the comprehensive model for its self-study, Towson sees an opportunity for the campus community to come together to reflect on its traditional values as it crafts its future priorities in light of current global economic and social realities.
With growth and transformative change as its focus, Towson has set six major goals for its comprehensive self-study:
To provide the Middle States Commission and the campus community with a thoroughly researched and analyzed study of how Towson University is positioned to respond to academic, fiscal and economic challenges as it sets priorities and develops its next strategic plan,
To examine and assess the alignment of Towson’s core mission and values with its current campus-wide practices and strategic plan,
To analyze and assess the effectiveness of Towson’s institutional planning and resource allocation, particularly in relation to the complex elements that constitute the students’ educational experience,
To determine the impact of enrollment growth on undergraduate and graduate academic units, as well as on non-academic units, at on-campus and satellite sites and to assess the consequence,
To assess the effectiveness of Towson’s assessment protocols across academic and non-academic units,
To examine and assess the current practices in faculty hiring, promotion, tenure and merit as Towson moves toward becoming a research intensive institution.
Organizational Structure and Outline of Tasks
The Self-Study Steering Committee (SC) is composed of 39 members who represent a broad spectrum of the Towson University community including faculty, students, academic and non-academic administrators, and staff from across a range of units, divisions, and departments. Members of the Steering Committee were invited to serve by the Provost in consultation with the President. The two co-chairs of the Steering Committee are the associate dean and a department chair from the College of Liberal Arts, the largest of the university’s colleges.
For the Towson University Self-Study, members of the Steering Committee elected to work with a modified version of the comprehensive model which focuses on the 14 Standards of Excellence as described by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Each Steering Committee member chose to work on one of eight groups based on her or his interests and expertise. The eight groups will address the Standards in working groups.
Committed to a collaborative and transparent process, the Steering Committee worked together during the spring and summer of 2008 to plan and finalize the Self-Study Design. Members of each Steering Committee Group collaborated on:
writing a brief narrative outlining how each Standard pertains to Towson,
crafting the charges and the research questions for each Standard to guide the work of examination, analysis and assessment,
identifying members of the campus community to serve on Working Groups,
assembling a comprehensive list of documents to be analyzed.
Each Steering Committee Group determined how many Working Groups would be required to analyze and assess Towson’s compliance with their assigned Standards. The number of Standards to be addressed and the complexity of the analysis were taken into consideration in the process of determining the organization and membership of the Working Groups. In total, there are 22 Working Groups whose membership is representative of all academic and non-academic units, departments and divisions across the University.
The membership of each Working Group includes at least one member from the Steering Committee who, as Chair or Co-Chair, provides leadership and directs the process. Working Groups will submit their research, analysis and assessment to their particular Steering Committee Groups for review and feedback. Each Steering Committee Group will assemble the pertinent data and write chapters of the Self-Study report, which will include recommendations that address how Towson University can best craft and advance its future priorities.
Middle States Accreditation Steering Committee
Administration Building, 2nd floor