It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. One reason is I had misplaced my blog password, but the bigger reason is that I’ve been focusing my writing energy into publications. It’s been a good week for writing; however, I should take a moment to share some good news. The press release from COA will come out in a few weeks, but it is official. The American Library Association - Committee on Accreditation gave us full accreditation. Our next visit should be in 2015.
If you’re not employed in a school that gets accredited you probably can’t appreciate the relief, but it is palpable to say the least. For the few of you who haven’t heard us talk about the process, let me briefly recap some of the highlights in brief.
We were accredited back in 2000 (before I came to Hawaii). We were supposed to be re-accredited back in 2006, but COA was gracious to extend our accreditation due to the flood, which destroyed our records. I should add that ever since 2000, LIS faculty, staff, and students have been working on developing the program for the next accreditation. Of course, we don’t do it for COA, but we are careful to be able to document to COA why we’ve made the changes we’ve done.
The buildup for the accreditation visit was our Program Presentation (as seen above). All members of the LIS faculty collaborated on writing a Program Presentation. Dr. Jacso was in charge of editing the volume. We also had help from Caitlin Nelson and Kale Kingsbury as Student Staff Members. Of course, Michelle, Michele, Lauren, Lauren, and Gail all greatly helped too, as did other students, and previous staff members. Janice, Nolan, Wesley, and Gerald also helped from the ICS staff. We sent a draft of the Presentation in fall, and the final version in August. You can download the first volume [at our COA Site] if you are interested. The second volume, with the supporting documentation, is available in the LIS Program office.
COA appointed an External Review Panel of six LIS professors/ administrators and practitioners from around the country. Four of the External Reviewers came in October to investigate the LIS Program. Working with two off-site members, they issued a 24-page Report (which soon will be available on our website too). We could disagree with interpretations in some parts of the report, but they offered some excellent suggestions. We’re already trying to implement some of their suggestions as part of our Strategic Planning.
The last stage was a hearing with the actual Committee on Accreditation at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver. I represented the Program. ERP Chair Ma’lis Wendt also was present to report and answer questions. At the meeting COA members spent 45 minutes asking us questions they had from reading the Program Presentation and ERP Report. You have no idea how tense I was about that meeting. I finally calmed down two days before the meeting, but was physically affected by nervousness anticipation for that meeting. I know that we have a quality Program with great faculty, adjunct faculty, staff, students, alumni, and advisors, so I felt immense pressure to do a good job of representing us. I shouldn’t have been so nervous. COA members asked sharp, critical questions, but they were collegial, and most of the questions were ones my colleagues and I had predicted. It actually was an interesting discussion about LIS education, except that I knew that they were judging us while we were talking.
A few days after coming back we received a letter that we had received full accreditation. I was so pleased and relieved. It was a great feeling to be able to send e-mails to students, alumni, and colleagues on campus. Chancellor Hinshaw even gave me a hug after I told her the news. I hadn’t expected that reaction, but am happy. It’s been a tough semester on for everyone.
I’m very proud of our school, but realize that we have many challenges ahead. All of us on the faculty are concerned about the economy. What will it mean for the LIS Program and for our graduates’ employment. Will our return to Hamilton Library, now set for January 2010, actually happen or will the budget freeze construction? The Chancellor has said that the Hamilton Library reconstruction is her top priority, but everyone is having to make tough choices since funds are so tight. Likewise, we are anxious to be able to replace Gail, who retired in December, but this is on hold. We are fortunate that Michelle and our ICS staff team have been so helpful since then. Dr. Harada has been an amazing Associate Chair, covering so many things this year.
Actually, my reason for sharing this post was to say how grateful all of us on the faculty are to everyone who has helped us achieve our accreditation. Our program is strong because alumni, colleagues, LIS Advisory Board are engaged and caring about the quality of our program, and mentor our students/ graduates. We’re also blessed to have such great colleagues in ICS as well LIS adjunct faculty. The ERP was pleased by the support from our administration (Graduate Division, Natural Science, Outreach College), ITS, ICS Chair, HITS, as well as Chancellor Hinshaw, Vice Chancellor Quigley, and System Vice President Johnsrud. Our students also are amazing. They are the reason we are here, but we were kvelling (filled with joyous pride) to see how they impressed the visiting team with their intelligence, creativity, and passion to provide library, archive, and information services to Hawai'i (and beyond). The accreditation was just a good reminder that the future of Hawaii’s libraries, archives, and information centers are in good hands.
Thanks again for everyone for helping us achieve this milestone. We’re counting on your continued support as we plan the next stage in professional education.