NEASC approves NVU accreditation


Jacob Greenia

Elaine Collins

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has approved the unification Johnson State College and Lyndon State College as Northern Vermont University (NVU).

“There are nine standards that any institution has to meet to be accredited,” said NVU President Elaine Collins. “We’ve been accredited by NEASC in the past, but if you want to change something as substantive as the unification initiative then you have to file a special proposal to do so.”

The nine standards that NEASC uses to evaluate its colleges are mission and purposes; planning and evaluation; organization and governance; the academic program; students; teaching, learning and scholarship; institutional resources; educational effectiveness and integrity; transparency and public disclosure.

“Unifying with Lyndon was such a large change that we had to come together and think about what the new mission will be for the university as compared to the colleges,” said Collins. “What will the vision be? What will the governance look like? How will teaching and learning play out?”

In order to construct the substantive change proposal of unification, a transition team of staff and faculty from both institutions was formed. The team included Nolan Atkins, Tanya Bradley, Jonathan Davis, Mike Dente, Doug Eastman, Sandy Franz, Jenny Harris, Hans Haverkamp, Penny Howrigan, Vinnie Maloney, Lauren Philie, Sylvia Plumb, Sharron Scott, Toby Stewart, Barclay Tucker, Sharon Twigg and Melissa Weinstein, as well as President Collins.

“Dan Regan was not on the transition team, but he actually did the writing,” Collins said. “We would meet bi-weekly and give him information as to how we were meeting the standards, and he would put it together in a beautiful report that we submitted to NEASC.”

Now that NVU has been officially granted approval, NEASC will give the college two years before sending a two-person team to the campus for a progress report. They will be checking in on the status of the unification plan, the enrollment, the balance of the budget and the nine aforementioned standards.

“Then, in 2023, they’ll send a seven-person team for our full comprehensive review that will take the university forward,” said Collins. “They wait until 2023 to give us time to collect the necessary data after our unification for the assessment.”

“This was a huge accomplishment,” Collins said. “If we didn’t get the approval we couldn’t continue with the unification. The U.S. Department of Education is our next step and they wouldn’t even start processing our financial aid until they knew we had been approved by our accrediting body to proceed, that’s how big this was.”