Over the last week, I had the pleasure of participating in multiple meetings with site visitors from accreditation bodies for the Counselor Education and Speech-Language Pathology programs.  Before these meetings, faculty members spent years diligently reviewing and updated curriculums, conducting assessments, making program changes and changes to instruction in response to assessment results, examining compliance with the Health Information Privacy Act,  and countless others things before writing detailed self-studies.  We follow a model of continuous improvement that leads to successful accreditation – this is a healthier mindset compared to “preparing for accreditation.”  Our approach requires us to look continually into a mirror that only tells the truth. 

The weight of writing self-studies for the Counselor Education and Speech-Language Pathology programs rested heavily on some trusted shoulders more than others, but everyone was needed to complete the studies successfully.  Of course, all of this was done in addition to the regular duties of teaching, scholarship, and service.

Both site visits started by welcoming our guests with their national accreditation magnifying glasses and microscopes in a way that expressed an openness to be examined – our vulnerability was placed willingly in the middle of the table.  Site visitors were thanked for taking time out of their busy lives to help us understand what we do well and what needed improvement.  Programs were examined from top to bottom by meeting with current students, community members, faculty, staff, and administrators. Mountains of documentation and all facilities were examined. Both teams contained people who were kind, knowledgeable, professional, genuine, and helpful.   We were all impressed by the ways in which we were examined.  

The site visits ended with collective meetings for each program.  Detailed, multi-paged lists of standards were summarized and thorough observations shared.  When the final page was turned in each meeting, we were told that all standards had been met (insert fireworks here)!  Some suggestions were shared to add to our continuous improvement process.  Results will be passed along to national accreditation bodies for their review. 

Both site-visit teams went on and on about how fortunate we are at SUNY Plattsburgh to have strong programs at a college where there is individual attention given to the growth of students.  One site visitor for the counselor education program said that if she had an 18-year-old, this is where she would send her.  A site visitor for the speech-language pathology program said he would like to work here (we have a job opening in his specialty area), but knew his spouse would not want to move away from their grandchildren.  These positive, personal statements were the “icing on the cake” of a positive process. 

Faculty members in service-oriented fields inspire the growth and development of students knowing that countless lives will be touched by what their students learn.  This exponential impact can never be measured unless the measurement device is a heart; we were happy the site visitors brought this measurement device too.  Validation for years of hard work and for the level of excellence obtained makes all of us proud.  I congratulate all faculty and staff in the Counselor Education and Speech-Language Pathology programs for a job well done.  As a community, we congratulate you and celebrate your success!