College to be visited by HLC for upcoming accreditation

By Tessa Brubaker, News Editor

College to be visited by HLC for upcoming accreditation

A team of educators will visit the college this week to help determine if Columbia should keep its accreditation for another 10 years. 

The site visit Nov. 5-6 will look at five categories as part of the reaccreditation process, according to Associate Provost for Accreditation Assessment Neil Pagano. The five criteria are mission; integrity; teaching and learning: quality, resources and support; teaching and learning: evaluation and improvement; and resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

“In order for a college or university to receive things like federal funds from the Department of Education, you need to be recognized by one of six regional accrediting associations in the country,” Pagano said.

The HLC accredits colleges and universities in the North Central region, which includes 19 states. 

Pagano said the college needed to write a report for the visit, known as an assessment argument, showing it meets the criteria listed, as well as detailing the operations of the college. The college has been evaluated every 10 years since its first accreditation in 1974, Pagano said, and its most recent accreditation visit was in 2009.

Tyler Roeger, project manager for assessment, accreditation and faculty development initiatives, said the team visiting the college is not HLC staff but faculty from individual institutions. Roeger said this is beneficial because they understand how a college operates.

“It wouldn’t necessarily have to be that all of the folks match Columbia exactly, which wouldn’t be realistic, but it’s definitely helpful if some folks know, ‘Oh, here’s how a theater program operates compared to something like a nursing program,’” Roeger said. “It gives them a better sense of some of the decisions we’ve made and how we function.”

According to an Oct. 30 collegewide email from Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden, open forums and drop-in sessions will be held during the two-day visit for anyone at the college to come and contribute feedback and  have their questions about the college’s accreditation answered.

Open forums are scheduled for Nov. 5 from 3:45–4:45 p.m. at 618 S. Michigan Ave. and Nov. 6 from 9–10 a.m. and from 10:15-11:15 a.m. at 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

Drop-in sessions are scheduled for Nov. 5 from 5–5:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 from 8–8:45 a.m. at 600 S. Michigan Ave.

“The forums are opportunities for the team to engage people on the campus to come and discuss with them aspects of their experience with the institution,” Pagano said. “We encourage people to show up.”

Associate professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department and President of Faculty Senate Sean Andrews said he hopes the college will get accredited for another 10 years.

“That’s the key to us operating as an institution,” Andrews said. “I hope the open forums also provide information to the team and provide faculty, and anyone else who comes to those sessions, the opportunity to provide further commentary and information about how we are meeting those criteria and how we can still do better.”

Pagano said it is a wonderful opportunity for the college to assess where it is and how it has grown as an institution.

It’s been a great experience for me and the others who have written the assurance argument to identify many of the wonderful things that are going on here on campus,” Pagano said. “We have not been shy about identifying challenges, because all institutions have challenges and many institutions have the same challenges.”