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Middle States

Accreditation Process

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a process in which institutions of learning engage with a recognized accrediting organization to assess its educational quality and realization of its mission.  Accreditation allows institutions to perform self-evaluation, demonstrating that they are in compliance with a set of quality measures and standards.

Information on Ocean County College’s accrediting body can be found on the College Facts and Policies page.

View our statement of accreditation status

For more information about Middle States visit the Middle States website.

The Self-Study is a transparent, inclusive, college-wide process of self-reflection that occurs over 24-36 months.  The main outcomes of the self-study are:

  • to demonstrate how the college meets the Commission’s Standards of Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation.
  • to focus on continuous improvement in the attainment of the institution’s mission and its institutional priorities.

According to the Middle States website, “Self-study will require that the institution engage in an in-depth, comprehensive, and reflective assessment process to assess the institution’s educational quality and success in meeting its mission, as well as identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.  Through this process, the institution must provide evidence and document compliance with the Commissions’ standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies, and procedures, and applicable federal compliance regulatory requirements.”

For detailed information on the self-study process, please review the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s self-study guide.

Middle States has seven (7) standards for accreditation and fifteen (15) Requirements of Affiliation.  For an institution to gain accreditation, it must demonstrate that it meets these standards within the context of its mission as well as the requirements of affiliation.

View the Middle States standards and requirements of affiliation.

Priority 1– Empower Students to learn, engage, and achieve

Priority 2– Optimize and expand enrollment of all learners

Priority 3– Elevate organizational effectiveness

Priority 4– Expand relationships with external stakeholders

Ocean County College’s Institutional Priorities are identical to the four goals of the college’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan.

View the college’s Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan.

The process includes the below phases:

Pre-Planning: September 2019-Fall 2020

Self-Study Design: Fall 2020-March 2021

Self-Study Process: March 2021- Fall 2022

Evaluation Team Site Visit: Spring 2023

The MSCHE reaffirmation decision will be available in Summer 2023

Core Leadership Team

Alexa Beshara-Blauth, ALO and Executive Director for Institutional Planning, Effectiveness, & Compliance Co-Chair
Heidi Sheridan, Dean of Arts and Humanities Co-Chair
James Marshall, Assistant Director for Assessment Co-Chair*, Evidence Coordinator and Team Lead for Standard V
Rosann Bar, Dean of Business & Social Sciences Chief Editor
Connie Bello, Executive Assistant to the President & Secretary to Board of Trustees Team Visit Schedule Coordinator
Jodi Heitmann, Executive Assistant to the President Team Visit Schedule Coordinator

Steering Committee

Additional Role

Maureen Conlon,  Associate Director of Web Services

Liaison

Mary Troy,  Director of Institutional Research

Liaison

Susan O’Connor, Program Director Perkins & Curriculum Compliance

Liaison

Jennifer Fazio,  Director of Student Life

Liaison

Beth Brierley,  Associate Professor, Speech and Theater

Liaison

Heather Sciarappa,  College Lecturer II, English

Liaison

Linda Novak,  Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

Liaison

Heidi Sheridan, Dean of Arts and Humanities

Co-Chair

Alexa Beshara-Blauth, ALO and Executive Director for Institutional Planning, Effectiveness, & Compliance

Co-Chair

Jason Molloy,  College Lecturer II, English
Connie Bello,  Executive Assistant to the President & Secretary to Board of Trustees
Sara Winchester,  Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration
Jerry Racioppi,  Vice President of Student Affairs
Joe Konopka,  Vice President of Academic Affairs
Henry Jackson,  Executive Director of Academic Success
Thomas Gialanella, Executive Director of School Relations

Standard I: Mission and Goals

Additional Role
Sean O’Leary, Technical Director
Janet Marler, College Lecturer II, Library
John Lopez, Director of Safety & Security
Maureen Conlon, Associate Director of Web Services Liaison
Anthony Trump, Executive Director of Student Services Team Lead
Vijay Ramdeen, College Lecturer II Chemistry Team Lead
Matthew Kennedy, Associate Vice President Facilities Management & Construction
Christine Healey, Director of Purchasing & Payables

Standard II, Ethics and Integrity

Additional Role

Margaret Maghan, College Lecturer II, Psychology

Team Lead

Christine B. Pericone (Spencer) Assistant Professor, Science

Eileen Buckle, Director of Program Compliance

Jan Kirsten, Executive Director of College Relations

Laura F. Rickards, Director Center for Access & Equity

Mary Troy, Director of Institutional Research

Liaison

Rosann Bar, Dean of Business & Social Sciences

Tracey Donaldson, Associate Vice President Human Resources

Team Lead

Standard III, Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

Additional Role

Chad Sexton, College Lecturer II, Sociology

Team Lead

Donna Rosinski, Director of Library Services

Team Lead

Dr. Joe Konopka, Vice President of Academic Affairs

Dr. William Rickert, Professor, Mathematics (until Spring 2021)

Vandana Saini, College Lecturer II, Math

Samantha Glassford, College Lecturer II, English

Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President International Programs

Susan O’Connor, Program Director Perkins & Curriculum Compliance

Liaison

Dr. Amir Sadrian, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
Mary Fennessy, Director of Program Services for Nursing & Health Science

Standard IV, Support Student Experience

Additional Role

Gary Shaffer, Assistant Professor, Digital Mass Media and Communications

Nathaniel Bard, Instructor in Fine Arts

Dr. Jerry Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs

Dr. Kathryn Pandolpho, Director of Counseling & Student Development Services

Janine Emma, Registrar

Team Lead

Jennifer Fazio, Director of Student Life

Liaison

Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services

Team Lead

Veronica Guevara-Lovgren, Assistant Dean, Arts & Humanities

Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success

Standard V, Educational Effectiveness Assessment

Additional Role

Tracy Walsh, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences
Rachel Doss-Block, Associate Director of E-Learning & Learning Enterprises

Caterina Gibson, College Lecturer II, Anatomy

Team Lead

Jason Molloy, College Lecturer II, English

Dr. Elizabeth M. Brierley, Associate Professor, Speech and Theater

Liaison

Eileen Schilling, Executive Director of Academic Assessment

James Marshall, Assistant Director of Assessment

Team Lead

Eileen Garcia, Vice President of E-learning and Learning Enterprises

Standard VI, Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement

Additional Role

Catherine Pontoriero, Librarian, Reference Services

Team Lead

Heather Sciarappa, College Lecturer II, English

Liaison

Ben Broder, Lead Network & Information Security Administrator

 

Mary Lancaster, Controller

Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration

 

Ken Malagiere, Executive Director of Ocean County College Foundation

Sylvia Rivello, Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

 

Yessika Garcia-Guzman, Executive Director of Financial Aid
Kayci Clayton, Associate Director, Grant Administration Team Lead

Standard VII, Governance, Leadership and Administration

Additional Role

Marc LaBella, Associate Professor of Science

Team Lead

Catherine Mancuso, College Lecturer II, Dance

Lisa Gruber, Assistant Director, Employee Pensions and Benefits

 

Carolyn Showalter, Assistant Dean Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

 

Connie Bello, Executive Assistant to the President & Secretary to Board of Trustees

 

Linda Novak, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees

Liaison

Robert Marchie, College Lecturer II, History

 

Toni Clay, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs

Team Lead

* As of April 2022

The Self-Study Design Document is an official document approved by Middle States that will guide the college throughout the Self-Study process.

The January 2022 Colloquium sessions provided an opportunity for the campus to hear directly from Working Group members about the first draft of their chapters.  Specifically, Working Group members:

  • Presented their corresponding Middle States Standard, noting its associated criteria.
  • Discussed general findings and how the College is going to demonstrate compliance with the standard.
  • Highlighted any recommendations or ideas for innovation based on the Working Group’s analysis.

The sessions also allowed for feedback and discussion by attendees. View the sessions on the Faculty & Staff Portal.

We invite you to read the full draft Report and provide your feedback via this form.  In addition, we will be hosting two open forums during the Fall Colloquium where we will review our next steps, highlight areas of innovation and improvement provided in the Report, and allow attendees to discuss their feedback.

View the full draft report and all of the evidence cited in the College’s Evidence Inventory.

Institutional Review will remain open through September 30.

View the Notification of Non-Compliance Action

Ocean County College has already taken immediate steps to address the Commission’s concerns and will develop further actions to demonstrate compliance. The College will submit a Monitoring Report, due January 16, 2024. A follow-up visit is anticipated in Spring 2024.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education makes available the opportunity to submit third-party comments regarding the institution’s compliance with standards for accreditation via their complaints page.

Dear Students,

I am honored to write to you as the new president of Ocean County College. My first day was July 1, and I have been spending time getting to know the people of the college and community. I look forward to getting to know all of you in the coming weeks and months.

I write to you today to make sure you are informed of some recent action by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the accrediting body for OCC. We received notice from the Commission on June 29, 2023, of what is called “Notification of Non-Compliance Action” which puts the college in a status of “Non-Compliance Warning.” What this means is that the Commission determined that we did not provide sufficient evidence that we meet the expectations of one of the seven standards. In this case, it was Standard VII, which focuses on governance, leadership, and administration. The College must submit what is called a monitoring report in January 2024 that provides documented evidence that we do meet this standard. Over the next months, you will witness the ways in which we will demonstrate that we do meet the expectations of the Commission with respect to the College administration, leadership, and governance.

Of course, no college wants to receive a warning notice from an accrediting body, but it is important for you to know several facts:

  • The College remains accredited while on warning.
  • This warning notice has no impact on the quality of the institution or the value of our academic endeavors. You are attending an outstanding college that is highly regarded throughout New Jersey.
  • The College was found to be in compliance with six of the seven standards.
  • The Commission determined that Ocean County College does an excellent job with respect to the quality of our curriculum, the support for student learning, the quality of instruction, assessment, and our financial resources.
  • The College has a plan to immediately begin to address the concerns expressed about Standard VII.

I am confident in the College and extremely proud to be the president of OCC. I want you to share my confidence and pride in our institution. Please, do not hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and concerns. I can be reached at 732-255-0330 and pmonaco@ocean.edu.

Your president,

Pamela Monaco, Ph.D.

Dear Ocean County College Community,

Just a year ago, when I joined the college as the incoming president, we learned that Middles States Commission on Higher Education (Middle States) determined that OCC had met only six of the seven standards for accreditation:  (I) Mission and Goals; (II) Ethics and Integrity; (III) Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience; (IV) Support of the Student Learning Experience; (V) Educational Effectiveness Assessment; (VI) Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement; and (VII) Governance, Leadership, and Administration.

At that time, we were found not to be in compliance with Standard VII. We understood we were given an opportunity to collectively define how to engage faculty, staff, students, and administration to improve our governance model and create an environment where all members of our community had a voice in making OCC a college for everyone.

Last fall, we worked collectively to bring change to our governance and leadership approach, and in January we submitted our Monitoring Report. In February 2024, a team of reviewers came to campus to verify the information we provided and assess our progress. On June 27, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education took action, and we have received official notice: “to reaffirm accreditation because the institution is now in compliance with Standard VII (Governance, Leadership, and Administration).”  We will provide a monitoring report in March 2025 to Middle States to demonstrate that we have remained committed to the changes and structures put into place.

This good news reflects the hard work of everyone at the College. I appreciate the dedication of the SGA, the club leaders, our athletes, and the many, many students who engaged with administration, with the Board of Trustees, and with one another to build our communications, to collaborate on governance, and to use your voice to represent the needs of the students. You made—and continue to make—a difference.

Pamela Monaco
President

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