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Logo for AACC's 2023 Middle States accreditation.

Anne Arundel Community College is preparing for reaccreditation, scheduled for March 12-15, 2023.

AACC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which maintains quality assurance for degree-granting colleges and universities in the mid-Atlantic region. The commission is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and accredits more than 500 colleges and universities.

To be accredited by Middle States, we must assess the strengths and weaknesses of current programs and institutional effectiveness against our own mission and goals and the Standards for Accreditation set by MSCHE. To provide evidence that we meet these standards, the college must participate in a comprehensive self-study every eight years. Along with identifying potential areas for improvement, the self-study aims to ensure current and future students, faculty, staff and the public that we are providing a high quality educational experience for students.

Learn more about the Middle States Commission.


The key component of the reaccreditation process is the self-study. The self-study review enables us to engage in an in-depth, comprehensive and reflective assessment process to identify institutional priorities, as well as, opportunities for improvement and innovation. This detailed internal examination of our institution involves volunteers from across the college community including administrators, faculty, staff and students.

We must provide the commission a report that they, along with a team of peers from other institutions, will review. The peer reviewers will come to our campus for several days to complete their own assessment and speak with several members of our community. The reviewers then take their report to the commission members, who will ultimately decide if we are reaccredited. 

Steering Committee

As the leadership team for the self-study, the steering committee oversees many tasks. The committee is comprised of members from all over the college. 

The committee members are:

  • Audra Butler, Ed.D., associate professor and director of assessment and instructional innovation
  • Erin Byrd, employment manager
  • Sue Callahan, budget director
  • Cameron Caswell, associate professor and reference department head
  • Riley Clark, assistant dean
  • Lawrie Gardner, professor
  • Deborah Hammond, assistant professor
  • James Johnson Jr., Ph.D., vice chair, board of trustees
  • Andrew Kim, instructor
  • Wayne Kobylinski, Ph.D., professor
  • Sandy Kowalewski, administrative assistant to dean
  • Tim McGowan, project manager
  • Sara Meinsler, associate professor
  • Dorothy Parrish-Harris, J.D., director, disability support services
  • Adil Qaiyumi, J.D., associate professor
  • Marjorie Rawhouser, Ph.D, assistant dean
  • Kadijat Richmond, Ed.D., assistant director
  • Brandi Shepherd, associate professor
  • Shyamala Sivalingam, Ph.D., associate professor
  • Kaya Smith, project manager
  • Marcus Wright, director of transfer, articulation and career alignment

Standards for Accreditation

Below you will find a breakdown of the Standards for Accreditation set by MSCHE with strengths and opportunities identified by the campus community. 

Standard I: Mission and Goals

This section describes how AACC’s mission and values define the college’s purpose within the context of higher education and the student population it serves, while providing the foundation for all planning and decision making needed to accomplish its goals and inform the strategic plan.


  • The college’s mission and goals are integrated and clearly communicated in both external and internal platforms and documents.
  • The college’s mission and goals were crafted through an inclusive process drawing on community involvement and input from all college constituencies.
  • The college’s strategic plans are developed collaboratively with broad representation and input from college constituencies and community stakeholders with continued focus on the college’s mission, ensuring an optimal fit between mission and strategic planning goals.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Include risk assessment when reviewing and establishing mission, goals, KPIs, and timeline to better prepare for changes that occur both internally and externally to the college.

Standard II: Ethics and Integrity

This section describes how AACC demonstrates its dedication and adherence to ethics and integrity in all interactions with students, employees, visitors, and external community stakeholders. This section also describes how the college values of Community and Relationships, Opportunity, Positivity, Innovation and Creativity, and Equity and Inclusion affirm its commitment through its policies, processes, and practices.


  • The college demonstrated resiliency and dedication of faculty, staff, and administration in the continual fulfillment of the college mission and goals and ethical decision making during crucial periods of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The college provides adequate support and resources to its faculty and staff concerning academic and intellectual freedom, freedom of expression, and intellectual property rights.
  • AACC capitalizes on the rich diversity among its students, faculty, staff, and administrators in developing a robust program of activities and opportunities to foster a climate of respect and appreciation of difference, in all forms, on campus.
  • The college complies with all state and federal reporting policies as well as local, state, and federal regulations and requirements.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Establish a centralized public-facing location to communicate policies, regulations, protocols, and procedures in
    transparent, accessible formats.
  • Increase communication and provide training to support employee and student understanding of freedom of expression,
    free speech, and intellectual property rights.
  • Develop and implement collegewide employee grievance policy and procedures, in accordance with the college’s Policy
    on the Development of Policy and Procedures.
  • Review and revise current student complaint policy and procedures to improve clarity and consistency of process.
  • Collect and review student complaints to identify thematic issues that may require collegewide actions.

Standard III: Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

This section describes how AACC responds to the diverse needs of the community by offering high-quality, affordable, accessible, and innovative lifelong learning opportunities. AACC demonstrates this through a systematic program approval process, qualified and well-trained faculty, sufficient resources to support student learning, and a comprehensive program review process.


  • Disaggregated data are available and widely accessible through Tableau dashboards, including course success and program continuation equity data.
  • The college provided comprehensive COVID-19 response and recovery planning, resulting in minimal disruption of learning.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Identify and provide additional faculty professional development opportunities designed to improve remote teaching and learning.
  • Assess interventions targeted to increase student progress and completion.
  • Assess current student placement procedures to evaluate effectiveness in student and course success.
  • Expand intentional analysis of equity data and use of high-impact practices in the comprehensive program review
  • Consider program planners that better accommodate certificates and part-time students.
  • Continue and assess current faculty recruitment procedures to increase the diversity of faculty.
  • Enhance accessibility of course materials that were developed in response to the pandemic.
  • Encourage full- and part-time faculty to use the Course Success Referral System.

Standard IV: Support of the Student Experience

This section describes AACC’s focus on student engagement and success to ensure that students have equitable opportunities to achieve their educational goals. The college fosters diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism through its enriching student experiences leveraged by a wide range of support services and extracurricular and cocurricular offerings, both online and in person.


  • The college offers robust online services and programming for students.
  • The college provides flexibility for students to access services and extracurricular activities online or in person.
  • The college offers a wide variety of programs and services to engage students.
  • The college takes the necessary steps to ensure personal and identifiable information is secured and protected.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Explore methods to use student success metrics to enhance student services to better meet student needs.
  • Explore the effectiveness of the success coach model and its implementation collegewide.

Standard V: Educational Effectiveness Assessment

This section describes AACC’s efforts to continuously improve the quality of the educational programs offered to the community through course, program, and institutional assessment. The college implements an ongoing and sustainable continuous improvement process that allows faculty and staff to systematically assess student learning outcomes aligned with strategic goals and objectives. Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the college’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study. A systematic and intentional focus on educational improvement enables AACC to meet the needs of a diverse community.


  • AACC has developed an effective and robust assessment process.
  • Goals are set and assessed at the institution, program, and course levels.
  • The college provides support for assessment activities with a dedicated director of assessment and instructional innovation and supporting staff, Taskstream tracking software, data dashboards available to employees, and extensive training for faculty and staff.
  • The extensive use of assessment findings supports students in meeting their completion, transfer, and career goals.
  • The college communicates assessment information effectively with internal and external stakeholders.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Clarify and standardize the criteria and procedures used to evaluate the effectiveness of the assessment processes across academic courses and programs.
  • Improve data accessibility for all stakeholders to facilitate continuous improvement within courses and programs.
  • Improve integration and application of LOA results to inform planning

Standard VI: Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement

This section describes how AACC examines its planning processes, resources, and structures to fulfill the college’s mission, vision, values, and goals. With demonstrated commitment to an ongoing assessment model, the college intentionally provides an environment conducive to continuous improvement of programs and services, advancing the college’s strategic objectives at the institutional and unit levels.


  • The college has always received a clean financial audit opinion.
  • The college created the Data Corner on the MyAACC portal to provide comprehensive disaggregated data and research briefs to engage the faculty, staff, and administrators to use data to inform continuous improvement and resource allocation decision-making.
  • Further development of a systematic assessment process used in all college divisions guides units in their planning, resource allocation, and continuous improvement activities.
  • The college created the African American Leadership Institute, which develops emerging leaders to support diversity in leadership and succession planning at the college.
  • Through thoughtful planning and strategic use of resources that align with the strategic plan, the college has a forwardlooking and comprehensive long-term technology plan to deploy up-to-date technology, which positions the college to meet evolving student, faculty, and staff needs.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • To strengthen succession planning, continue to evaluate cross-training and leadership opportunities.
  • Improve integration, organization, and cross-divisional communication in planning and assessment processes.
  • Implement strategies that promote utilization of offsite locations.
  • Collect and analyze data on campus-wide accessibility and provide oversight of initiatives to increase campus compliance with ADA and other applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

Standard VII: Governance, Leadership, and Administration

This section describes AACC’s governance structure, which allows open lines of communication with the internal constituency groups (faculty, staff, administration, and students) and the outside community. The Board of Trustees and the president exercise due diligence and integrity to ensure the college is meeting the mission and goals of the college, with the primary goal of ensuring the college provides the best educational opportunities for all students.


  • The college benefits from a strong and active board of trustees that is committed to remaining focused on its scope of responsibility. The board has created a thoughtful onboarding procedure for new members and is committed to professional development for all board members and staff.
  • The board maintains transparency and demonstrates its commitment to assessment and continuous improvement in all aspects of its work. This commitment is demonstrated in the work the board has undertaken to address the College Manual and policies. The systematic approach to working with college representatives and constituency groups creates a clearly defined structure and mechanism for reviewing and updating all policies that includes transparency and ensures thoughtful review by the groups impacted by a particular policy.
  • The leadership team uses the constituency groups to help provide insight into the strategic direction and initiatives of the college, seeking to be inclusive by working with teams comprised of members from across the campus. The development of the strategic plan, Riverhawk Recovery, and the Middle States Self-Study are examples of this effort. The president uses CAP to gather and respond to problems and challenges raised by constituency groups and is transparent with these efforts. In addition, hosting open forums has enhanced communication and become an essential part of the design and implementation process of many major projects.

Opportunities for Improvement and Innovation

  • Participate in another institutional assessment, such as ATD’s Building Adaptive Capacity for Resiliency and Agility framework to inform the college’s post-pandemic student learning and support.
  • Monitor the impact of its efforts regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism by instituting the campus climate survey on a regular cycle, including surveying students. The results of this survey should be shared in a meaningful way with the college community to lead to actionable outcomes.
  • Assess both the effectiveness and efficiency of the large group team approach implemented for major initiatives, including the use of volunteers versus teams determined by roles and responsibilities.
  • Consider reinstituting an employee satisfaction survey (such as Great Colleges to Work For) to better understand and address the challenges and opportunities of the workforce.
  • Assess the efficacy and adequacy of the structure and membership of the three employee constituency groups.
  • Examine the representation of Academic Forum/Council and collegewide committees in support of equity and inclusion.


The accreditation process is an open one and we are dedicated to sharing updates with our college community periodically through this webpage. We have a variety of teams consisting of faculty, staff and students who are working together through the accreditation process. Students, faculty and staff will receive updates as needed. Check this page often as we will ask for feedback from the college community as we continue through the self-study process!

Where we are headed

Timeline Progress

Fall 2022-Spring 2023

The president will send the final copy to the MSCHE evaluation chair prior to their scheduled visit. During this time, further preparation of the site visit is being worked through.

Spring 2023

MSCHE evaluation team visits AACC. After their visit, they will submit a team report and the president of AACC will respond.

Summer 2023-Fall 2023

MSCHE will determine reaccreditation status.

For comments and questions about the accreditation process, email


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Middle States Team

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Middle States Commission on Higher Education
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Philadelphia, PA 19104

Middle States 2023 Self Study Report


Middle States Open Forum

Do you have questions about the Middle States process or the self-study report? Check out the presentation below for more information!

Middle States Open Forum
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