An investigation of change around an accreditation process
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All institutions of higher education must respond - and respond now - to a new and powerful challenge to “business as usual”: the call for accountability. It will not be enough to tinker at the edges. The kind of institutional change required will entail a re-examination of how we teach, how we grade our students, how we relate to our students, how we market ourselves and how we give an accounting of ourselves to policy makers and those who fund us. Those institutions that can adapt and meet the new accountability challenge are the ones that will survive and be in a position to thrive. As Charles Darwin noted: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” The purpose of this study is to describe how organizational change was accomplished at an urban, commuter, masters-level liberal arts institution. Specifically, the study analyzes the changes in assessment, faculty accountability and campus culture, begun by the catalyst for change in an initial NCATE accreditation as well as other college-wide factors like a strategic planning process and a general education review. This study will use the four aspects of change that affect the depth and meaningfulness of change in an organization: the why, what, how and target of the change, and put the findings from the exploratory case study in the theoretical framework of Bolman and Deal’s Reframing Organizations. Using the four frames, structural, human resources, political and symbolic, the many factors around the change initiative will be analyzed to determine the role played in the change. This study will help institutional leaders better understand how change occurs in a public, commuter institution as well as the effect of internal and external forces. It will help leaders look at a change process from multiple lens, and analyze it from the perspectives of the various individuals in the process. This study provides some insight into aspects that help, and those that might hinder effective transformational change for leaders in similar institutions.