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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)?
The Higher Learning Commission is the arm of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) that is responsible for the accreditation of colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. The NCA is one of six regional associations that accredit schools and colleges in the United States. Although most of the colleges and universities that HLC accredits are in the upper Midwest, its geographical range extends from West Virginia to Arizona.
What is HLC Accreditation? Why is it important?
While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study (engineering, education, etc.), the Higher Learning Commission and other regional accrediting agencies are responsible for assuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards in terms of their missions, operations, and activities in teaching and student learning, discovery and promotion of knowledge, and service. Accreditation is an assurance to the public that an institution is properly prepared to do its job. On a more practical level, the HLC and the other accrediting agencies have been designated as the "gatekeepers? for federal funds in higher education. Unaccredited schools are not eligible for many kinds of federal support.
What does the HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
The Commission has a new set of criteria for accreditation that went into effect in 2004-2005:
- Mission and Integrity
- Preparing for the Future
- Student Learning and Effective Teaching
- Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge
- Engagement and Service
Each Criterion also has four or five Core Components that must be addressed.
When will the HLC re-accreditation visit take place and who will visit?
A ten-person team of Consultant-Evaluators, made up of administrators, staff and faculty, is scheduled to come to campus in Spring 2009. These members of the HLC's Consultant-Evaluator Corps are all trained in using the new Criteria and bring a range of expertise and experience in the areas of university operations, teaching and learning.
What kinds of recommendations might the team make?
The team may simply recommend continued accreditation with no recommended follow-up activities before the next scheduled visit in 2019. The team could also require a focused visit to gauge University response to particular issues. It could also recommend other kinds of progress or monitoring reports. It is likely that some kind of follow-up activity will be recommended. Under the new Criteria, HLC staff estimate that 85% of institutions will have some kind of activity required.
What will happen to the report when the visit is over?
Missouri University of Science and Technology as an institution will need to look carefully at the team's report, both for the validation of the things that we are doing well and for advice about ways in which we can improve what we are doing. Particular issues may be referred to appropriate committees and offices for examination and action. The campus may want to consider establishing an ongoing body that will bring all of our accreditation, program review, assessment and planning activities together so that we can avoid duplication and work toward the future in processes that are mutually informed and collaborative.
What do we hope to learn from this process?
We hope, above all, that the visit will confirm that Missouri University of Science and Technology is meeting its mission in all meaningful ways. We also hope to receive good advice about ways in which we can better meet and advance our mission. And we hope that as an institution we will learn much more about ourselves.
Would you like to see the most recent Power Point presentation of Missouri S&T's plan to get re-accredited?