Accreditation. The mere mention of it will send faculty and administrators into a state of eye-rolling, breathless anxiety, except for a small group of sickos that are really into reports. Their breathlessness and eye-rolling are of a different character, of course, a full description of which is too sexy for this blog. But where the sensible and the sensual can agree is that the present Time of the Kaiju complicates an already arduous academic process.
Everyone in modern higher ed has felt the increased pressure brought on by the arrival of Object X-76 in orbit. It’s not every day that a space-faring cylinder the size of Antarctica shows up to threaten the planet, fortunately. But this one is here now, forged of an otherworldly metal and broadcasting ceaseless threats and ominous, alien music (also metal) for the past three years.
Worse, the Object’s mysterious masters have vowed to bring us to our collective knees. Besides making us all functionally shorter, this attempt to subjugate our world by sending legions of gargantuan creatures against humanity’s defenses has disrupted the normally stable rhythms of academia. This has injected elements of uncertainty and high-energy radiation into the already-hot stew of the intellectual sphere. I shudder to think of the impact on enrollments should the invaders complete their colonization of Earth.
This is all the more true when the accreditation site-visit team arrives.
Coordinated preparation over the long term is a must. At the New Des Moines Slag-Belt Comprehensive University, we have a robust system in place to gather and analyze relevant data, to document closing-the-loop actions, and to repel the stench attacks of Ograh the Vile Obliterator. NDMSBCU takes a cooperative approach, with our faculty leading the effort. The administration takes on a horizontal, supporting role, all the way up to the offices of the Great Spire of the Dark Sacrulum of Othai Ga’ul, which is vertical, ironically. There, the Unnameable Priests of Ga’ul collaborate with the Vice President of Student Affairs to break out the campus climate survey into an appealing and readable format.
We’ve also found that, in addition to employing reliable incentives like faculty stipends for strategic planning, early-career buy-in can be fostered by building accreditation activities into job postings. Training is just as important, ensuring solid advising practices and improving marksmanship with the plasma cannons, which are just about the only thing that will drive Zidraxon away.
An area of real concern for the associate dean, upon whom inevitably fall the twin tasks of coordinating accreditation planning and Kaiju migration tracking, is the accreditation site visit. Historically, these have been stress-fests for all but the most hardened academics. By this time, all the hard work of compiling data, writing the self-study, and locking the Economics Department into their pens has been completed. But the mundanity of hosting could frazzle any administrator, even luminaries such as Dr. Millicent “The Grenade” Theeravit, who single-handedly conquered Craivor the Icebound with, well, a grenade. Taking down this massive, frigid beast with such modest ordnance clearly impressed the team from the Central Association for Social Work Education, leading to an important renewal of accreditation despite some concerns about persistence rates among low-income students.
Many institutions, however, may not have a “The Grenade” in the dean’s suite. For the majority, an all-purpose Mech is a necessity. Anthropomorphic Mechs are imposing and majestic, but they are also top-heavy. I recommend a crawler-style, preferably with chirality disruptors and tac-nukes. This will handle most of your day-to-day Kaiju, and it can even take down a Class IV if conditions are favorable. A bonus benefit of a crawler is that it doubles as an airport shuttle for the visit team.
On the other hand, if you are forced to tackle a Class V or above—Red Diabulosos, for instance—nothing short of the Sword of Anthreon is going to save you from complete annihilation.
Or probationary accreditation at best.