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SUNY Cortland earns accreditation to receive federal funds

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  • Staff Report 

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has reaffirmed SUNY Cortland’s accreditation, providing assurance that the university is fulfilling its student-focused mission. 

Accreditation allows SUNY Cortland to receive federal aid. The designation  makes it possible for its students to qualify for  financial aid, transfer credits and qualify for graduate programs.

“This is great news,” said President Erik J. Bitterbaum of the commission’s recent decision. “I can report that the Middle States team was pleased with SUNY Cortland’s current commitment to students as well as its strategic plan for the coming years.”

Middle State’s accreditation is based on an extensive self-study done by member institutions every eight years. In addition to outlining a school’s mission, strategic plans and priorities, the study must include proof that it is actually living up to seven Middle States’ standards. If the institution does not provide sufficient evidence, the commission may make recommendations for improvement.

The commission made no recommendations in its report. Cortland’s accreditation status will next be re-evaluated in 2029-30.

 “I think the process has made us do a better job of thinking about the mission and how we’re applying our resources to help us meet that mission,” said Distinguished Service Professor Lynn MacDonald, former chair of the Physical Education Department. “People are more aware of strategic planning, and what that really means.”

MacDonald and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Carol Van Der Karr co-chaired the study’s steering committee. More than 120 SUNY Cortland faculty and staff served on the committees and working groups that prepared the study, and many more were involved less directly in collecting evidence of the university’s compliance.

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“It involves all aspects of campus,” Van Der Karr said, noting that the commission looks not only at academics, but campus government, finances, operations and other elements. “We really did have people from all corners of the campus working on different pieces.”

“Accreditation now is based on outcomes,” she said. “They don’t want just a list of all the activities you’re doing. They want to know how you’re measuring the impact of those activities.”

More information, including a short video outlining the process, is available online.