The Reaccreditation Blog is Your Communication Center

This blog provides a space where those of us who are working on the reaccreditation self-study can communicate with the rest of the campus without overwhelming you with email. The reaccreditation team will post information on this site that will be used for the North Central Association team visit in 2010. We will try to post updates regularly to let everyone know how our work preparing for that visit is progressing. We will also use this space to raise issues that come up in the course of our self-study that might be of interest to the entire community.

And we want to hear from you. We welcome your comments, opinions, and questions. Please use this blog to make your voice heard and tell us what you believe makes Kenyon the institution it is today by responding to our posts. And don’t forget to check out our web site at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Third Party Comments

Kenyon College is seeking comments from the public in preparation for its reaccreditation visit by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC). Kenyon College has been continuously accredited by the Commission since 1938. The College undergoes a comprehensive visit every ten years; its last reaccreditation was in 2000. A team representing the HLC will visit campus from September 27-29, 2010 to review our self study, gather evidence that it is thorough and accurate, and make a recommendation on Kenyon’s accreditation status to the HLC, which takes the final action.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding Kenyon College. Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. All Comments must be in writing and signed; comments cannot be treated as confidential. Comments may also be filed electronically at

Please mail written comments to:
Public Comment on Kenyon College
The Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602

All comments must be received by August 27, 2010.

Monday, September 7, 2009

More Environmental Scanning Devices

Here are some more ingenious environmental scanning devices crafted by the Reaccreditation Task Force:

Hip Data Miner

Handy-dandy slats open or close to let in information or block it like venetian blinds.

Don't be blinded by information overload. Block out the irrelevant, extraneous junk. Focus on what's important.

Blue tooth connection connects to any source and sends data directly to your retina through this cutting edge data miner. PC or Apple compatibility. Comes only in Kenyon purple. Impact resistant plastic on all parts. Light comfortable frames. Impact resistant and UV blocking lenses. Sleek elegant look. Fiberglass slats filter unwanted data. Rose tinted lenses allow in only the most happy information. Can also be used as sunglasses or to make cell phone calls.


This product collects creative brain waves to disperse as needed.

For use when creative energy is low!

Warning: Not to be combined with drug use.

Environmental Scanning Hoop

Made of legitimate microfibers, this hoop will be deployed around the globe in 2025.

So small it is invisible to the naked eye.

A deposit of $25 million will allow access to environmental scans. Beat the competition; get it first.

Better than google maps. Realtime data transmitted to secure servers.

Find buried treasure. Scanning technology penetrates 100 m below ground. Discover minerals, map deep sea, monitor traffic patterns, secure your borders. Keep an eye on neighbors and competitors.

You've scanned before, but not like this!

All new Environmental Scanning for your department!

Visual tool to encourage your department to take a deeper look into how you are doing.

Can double as a backpack, flip top--could be as small as a cell phone.

Wireless or could be connected, works at light speed, lightweight plastic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Environmental Scanning--what is it?

To inject more fun into reaccreditation task force meetings (and it's always fun to mock jargon), committee members recently were asked to create marketing plans for various "environmental scanning" devices. Here for your entertainment are a few of the funnier products and the marketing plans:

1. Fingertron Orbital 2100: Environmental Scanning for the 22nd century.

Provides an opportunity for independent digitally controlled E. S. satellites adding functionality beyond standard human digital detection systems (aka fingers).

Prevents burns, cuts, lacerations, detachment.

Heavy duty mylar glove component which is not only hot wired for ES but shark-bite proof for underwater use.

Electronic waves powered by the sun also provide a space-age manicure and neo-conditioning for optimal skin conditioning.

Accurate geo-spatial mapping for precise measurements as needed--architectural reviews, interior design.

Environmental Scanner 2

Compact, portable, user-friendly.

Changeable accessories (like skins)

Can be highly visible or hidden depending on
circumstances (i.e. Philander's Phling or classroom seminar)

Can detect auditory feedback up to 50 radius in low-high ranges.

Convenient for holding other scanning tools such as spectacles and sunglasses, bluetooth, etc.

Market on radio or with bullhorn

Perfect for February in Gambier

One layered

Special poly/cotton/wool clothing keeps you warm in singer with a single layer.'

Pretreated in thermal dynamic heat substance (trade secret) typically used for clothes by arctic explorers.

Comes in casual, dressy, or athletic.

No more bulky sweaters or jackets

Environmentally friendly because its made from recycled clothing.

Material expands or contracts--pull to make larger; squeeze to make smaller. One size fits all.

Water repellant.

Images by Ellen Harbourt

More examples to come in a later post.

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Serendipity

In favor of the new idea, the unanticipated epiphany, the bolt from the blue.

Having written previously in defense of assessment and trying to explain its potential benefits, let me know say something on the other side. What are the shortcomings of the assessment centered university? What do we risk losing in our rush to measurement?

All of the calls for accountability and assessment in higher education today risk taking so much of our time teaching to and then documenting success at checklists of facts, skills, and experiences that we risk obliterating the single most important feature of higher education--especially liberal arts education--and that is the luxury of the time and space to create a lively and engaged environment in which smart people--teachers and students--can come together and think the previously unthought. This process is at heart unpredictable and so unmeasurable, but it is also the motor of innovation.

The unthought of, the unplanned, the serendipetous conjuncture of time, place, and chance, can never be assessed, can never be accounted for. But we all know how exciting it can be when all of the pieces fall into place, when some new and exciting idea (not in the lesson plan) takes shape in the middle of a discussion or a paper. Colleges cannot promise that every student will have an epiphany, though of course we hope that they do. We can try to inculcate facts, figures, names and dates, we can cultivate habits of mind like thoughtfulness, critical reading, good writing, but we cannot assure the big bang. It's not that such experiences are ineffable. That's not my claim. We can pretty accurately describe (after the fact) what happened when a student or group of students suddenly has an important insight. Rather, we can't predict how or when they will happen. They are insights precisely to the extent that they are unexpected; they cannot be anticipated and so can't be planned for, listed as a goal, and then measured. Worse, to create classroom situations that facilitate such experience is hugely risky, since one can never guarantee that one's students will reach the desired destination, precisely because there is no desired destination. The spontaneous occurrence of something we didn't plan is what we mean by serendipity. It has to "just happen" and to do so, we have to run the risk that nothing at all could equally well happen in the classroom (which seems to be the heresy we fear).

A good college education must create the circumstances in which students--and teachers-- have the chance to experience these kind of ground-moving insights. These opportunities should not be limited to the best and brightest. The insight of the C student who struggles and struggles and suddenly "gets it" is as important as the honors student who effortlessly writes a "graduate level" essay. Space needs to exist in syllabi, class discussions, assignments, curricula, group work for these moments to happen.

We can perhaps measure the ability to analyze, synthesize, memorize, and categorize, but we will never measure the epiphany, the "aha" moment. And too much focus on measuring, assessing, and accounting may risk smothering those flashes.