During the past year, administrators, faculty, and staff have been working behind the scenes on West Shore Community College’s reaffirmation of accreditation.
Recently the effort has been gathering momentum and College officials are preparing for a site visit by the Higher Learning (HLC), an independent corporation and one of six regional accreditors of higher learning in the United States.
The College was initially granted accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, now known as the Higher Learning Commission, in 1974, and maintained its accreditation status through the traditional self-study process.
In 2002, the College was accepted into the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), an alternative accreditation process predicated upon a continuous improvement model developed by the HLC. To be accredited through AQIP, an institution must maintain three action projects at all times, prepare a systems portfolio to provide explanation of processes and results from the institution, and participate in site visits.
In 2009, the College received Reaffirmation of Accreditation via the AQIP Pathway.
A key component of the cyclical (every eight years) reaffirmation process is the on-site review and representatives from HLC’s member institutions will conduct a site visit on March 7-9, 2016.
According to Dr. Lisa Stich, Vice President of Academics and Student Services, HLC reviews its member institutions to ensure they are providing students with a quality education and maintaining the necessary standards for accreditation. “More than a stamp of approval, accreditation gives students access to federal financial aid, makes it easier for them to transfer credits to other institutions, and affirms the quality of the college’s faculty and support services.”
As input for the site visit in March, the next phase of the reaffirmation/review process occurs in January 2016 when the College submits a supplement to its 2013 AQIP portfolio.
WSCC President Kenneth Urban, Ed. D., notes that integrating reaffirmation into the College’s culture instead of viewing it as an occasional formality translates to better processes and, ultimately, student success.
“Reaffirmation is critical to assuring our communities that we are the best choice to meet our students’ educational goals,” says Urban. “When it is viewed as more than a periodic event, reaffirmation becomes a way to identify and take full advantage of opportunities for continuous improvement.”
The public is invited to submit written comments regarding WSCC’s accreditation reaffirmation by mail or on the HLC web site. According to the commission, “Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs.”
To learn more about the accreditation and reaffirmation process, visit the College’s or the HLC web sites.
The public may submit written comments regarding the college to:
Public Comment on West Shore Community College
The Higher Learning Commission
203 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411
The public may also submit comments on the Commission’s Web site at www.ncahlc.org.
Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing.
All comments must be received by Friday, February 6, 2016
Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Communications & Community Engagement