2017 HLC Reaffirmation of Accreditation Process
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States and conducts a full review of accreditation every eight to 10 years. The next periodic evaluation of Ridgewater College occurs this spring, with a site visit from April 17-19, 2017. Ridgewater College has been accredited since 1996.
To prepare for this visit, the College submitted a Systems Portfolio in November 2014. The Portfolio was reviewed for evidence of meeting HLC's five Criteria for Accreditation and for using the six AQIP continuous improvement categories.
April 17-19, 2017, a peer review team from the Higher Learning Commission will visit RC. Peer review in accreditation is based on the fundamental assumption that quality in higher education is best served when peers in higher education, informed by standards created and applied by professionals in higher education, make team-based judgments about institutional quality using multiple types of evidence. Peer reviewers are "peers" who review institutional quality because they understand higher education, are interested in quality processes and want to see improvement throughout higher education institutions.
Prior to visiting RC, the peer review team spends several weeks reviewing RC's Systems Portfolio, Systems Appraisal Feedback Report, Response to Portfolio, CQR Highlights Report, Federal Compliance filing, and other evidence, such as AQIP action projects, to identify discussion topics. These topics will be reviewed during meetings with individuals and groups while on-site. In addition to the materials provided by RC, the peer review team will have access to comments submitted to the HLC through the Third-Party Comment process and will review results of a survey the HLC administers to students six weeks prior to the campus visit.
The HLC review team may ask…
- What do you know about accreditation?
- What do you know about the Higher Learning Commission?
- Have you seen or read Ridgewater College's Systems Portfolio?
- How would you describe Ridgewater College's mission?
- Do you know where you would find the official statement?
- How does your department contribute to Ridgewater College's mission?
- How do you contribute to the College's mission?
- What are the College’s current strategic planning priorities?
- What are Ridgewater College's greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- What makes Ridgewater College unique in Minnesota and among higher education colleges in general?
- How would you describe the campus climate for diversity?
- What is it like to work at Ridgewater College? How is morale on campus?
- What are the biggest challenges facing Ridgewater College?
- How about challenges specific to your department or unit?
- Do you think that academics are the top priority at Ridgewater College? Why or why not?
- Describe any campus processes that could be improved or made more efficient.
- What kind of changes are taking place at Ridgewater College? Do you see these as positive or not?
A review team from the Higher Learning Commission will be on campus April 17-19, 2017. While on campus, the peer review team will likely spend time visiting various programs and departments, observing classrooms or co-curricular activities, and meeting with individuals and groups (including open forums with faculty, staff, and students). Specific meetings will be posted, but we can expect that the team will hold meetings with specific individuals, in addition to open meetings. View the 2017 Site Visit AgendaAfter
Here's a look at the process that starts the last day of the campus visit and continues for several weeks:
- The peer review team works together to prepare a draft report
- The draft report is sent to Ridgewater College for review and to correct any errors of fact
- The peer review team prepares a final report of its findings and recommendations for the reaffirmation of accreditation status
- The College receives a copy of the final report and has an opportunity to provide a formal written response to the HLC (this response becomes part of the official record of the evaluation)
- The HLC reviews the final report and the College's response
- The HLC communicates to Ridgewater College in writing when the review process is completed and final action by the HLC has been determined