Over the decade following Ming Chuan becoming recognized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE) as a comprehensive university, due to the increasingly competitive environment of higher education, institutional development and assessment was aggressively promoted. In order to focus university resources and efforts in this area, President Dr. Chuan Lee established an Executive Vice President’s Office in January 2007, and appointed Dr. Robert Yien as MCU’s first Executive Vice President, charged with leading the university’s efforts in overseas accreditation. With Dr. Yien on board, what had been merely an interesting concept and fodder for discussion during the period 1998-2005 – accreditation of MCU under a United States’ accrediting body – now took on flesh. President Lee commissioned Dr. Yien to investigate what routes might be open to Ming Chuan in applying to become a candidate for accreditation. Meanwhile, our MCU Bilingual Task Force focused on building a strong foundation of documentation for when that day came by preparing bilingual materials including all everything from core regulations and policies to emergency response procedures. Thinking back on the journey of Ming Chuan earning accreditation under MSCHE, several thoughts stand out. The first is that with diligence and teamwork, a group can accomplish more than one would ever dream possible. The second is that attempting to guide cultural change and mindset renewal is an on-going, long-term process which could easily lead one to frustration, but when met with good humor and perseverance, can show progress. This short article focuses on the key words: Possibilities, Process, Perseverance and Progress. Possibilities Everyone who has worked with President Lee for more than a few years has heard him say: IMPOSSIBLE = I’M POSSIBLE.
Despite the hyperbole involved, this perspective has the potential of opening up individuals and organizations to dream and look for ways to make seemingly unachievable dreams become reality. Often a lot of hard work, trial and error, and waiting for the right mix of timing and people to come together are required. However, looking at a situation and seeing what could be done to make it enormously better, while not letting the ‘anxiety quakes’ stop you from even considering big things, is the mark of a visionary. Ming Chuan has earned U.S. institutional accreditation under the visionary leadership of President Lee, a man who focuses on possibilities. Process The process of seeking MSCHE accreditation required someone on board such as Vice President Yien, who has the years of experience in U.S. higher education to understand the networking, relational connections and communications channels needed to discover and grasp the opportunity to apply when it was available.
Moreover, all along the way Dr. Yien has counseled us on what factors to pay particular attention to during interaction with MSCHE officers, as well as the evaluation teams. Another key part of the process that began years before we launched any formal application is the bilingualization of the university. Not only the efforts of the bilingual task force staff members, but the cooperation of administrators and staff across the university, are to credit for where we are today with a bilingual glossary of nearly 4000 items, all of the university’s charters, regulations, policies, announcements, forms, websites, and so forth, available in Chinese and English. The process of self-study is reliant on the dedicated efforts and hours of labor on the part of the Steering Committees, Working Groups, numerous staff members and participating faculty, students, alumni and board members. Each one contributed important pieces of the data collection, collation, analysis and reporting process. Each self-study is a laborious endeavor, and in both the 2008-2010 and 2014-2016 processes, many new things were attempted, information gathered in combinations it hadn’t been in before, and reported on in the second language of most of those engaged in the process! Perseverance At the beginning of the application and launch of the self-study, the value of pursuing MSCHE accreditation was not so obvious to everyone who would eventually be involved. The team spirit of the Ming Chuan Family, which has been nurtured over the decades under Founder Pao’s leadership and has continued under President Lee, is a major contributor to perseverance at completing the tasks at hand. Besides playing a role in the self-study and reporting process for the MSCHE accreditation, the regular duties and job expectations of each one of the participants continued as always.
Moreover, many of those in academic units were also – during the initial accreditation and this round of re-accreditation – working on reports for domestic department/graduate program accreditation associated with the MOE and Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT). Many persevered in meeting deadlines only through working lots of late nights and weekends. Progress During the 2014-2016 Self-Study for Re-accreditation, it has been obvious that the assessment mindset of many has advanced to comprise a deeper understanding of the value of formative assessment in addition to summative. In so many aspects, almost every unit has learned what it means to ‘close the loop’, that is, making use of the analyzed results from the current year’s assessment to form and apply improvement strategies to next year’s efforts, and then checking to see if that was more effective. The strategic planning of the university has been integrated and streamlined to make the most of every effort and resource. Units and students can track their progress through easy-to-comprehend data portfolios. Are there things that still need attention and further improvement? Yes, as is the case for any institution. But there is much progress to acclaim and celebrate: One of the most important is the ‘can do’ spirit of the members of the big Ming Chuan family, who pull together through thick and through thin.