Higher Learning Commission to visit UCCS, encourage campus opinion

November 08, 2016

Anne Stewart

astewart@uccs.edu

     Students, faculty and staff received a survey from the Higher Learning Commission via e-mail at the beginning of the semester, which requested feedback on their experience at UCCS.

     This survey marked the beginning of the university’s accreditation review. The HLC is an independent corporation that accredits UCCS and other collegiate institutions for the North Central U.S. region.

     The extensive process occurs every 10 years at UCCS.

     Representing the HLC, a team of five faculty members from out-of-state universities will visit the campus Nov. 14- 15 to collect verbal feedback from a variety of people at UCCS.

     Terry Schwartz, associate vice chancellor for Academic and Faculty Affairs, said that after the visit, the HLC has eight weeks to put together a report, to which the school can respond with corrections or clarifications. The HLC will then send UCCS a final report to be made public.

     Associate vice chancellor for Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning David Moon, who has been part of review teams for other institutions, said that there will be private focus sessions as well as open sessions during the visit.

     The open sessions are open for anyone to attend, and will cover specific topics.

     Students and faculty are encouraged to go to the sessions if they want to provide further feedback to the HLC.

     “We really want students to come and share their experience and be as authentic as they can about their experience, because it’s a big deal,” said Sentwali Bakari, vice chancellor for Student Success.

     During the sessions, reviewers will give attendees an overview of their purpose and then start a conversation with a list of questions, said Moon.

     “They are expecting differing opinions, but they also expect that everyone is telling them what they believe to be true,” said Moon.

     “People should feel free to express their opinions, whatever they are,” said Schwartz.

     According to Schwartz, five criteria are used to evaluate the university, and the school’s responsibility is to show how the HLC how the criteria are being met.

     These criteria revolve around values such as the university’s mission, integrity, quality, evaluation in teaching and resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

     “The set of criteria is what the HLC uses to judge whether or not an institution is serving its students,” said Moon.

     After the evaluative visit in November, the reviewers decide whether the school has met the criteria for accreditation, but concerns remain or that the criteria have not been met, said Moon.

     Schwartz said that she and her colleagues have been preparing for this visit for over a year by writing, reviewing and gathering information.

     “The HLC already knows a lot about the school before coming to campus,” said Moon.

     According to Schwartz, the HLC not only surveys and visits the campus, but also looks at the school’s website in great detail to see that campus policies and information such as tuition cost and the academic honor code, is easily accessible and transparent.

     Additionally, the school submits reports and documentation of different initiatives that illustrate how the school meets the regulations required to reaffirm their accreditation.

     “We believe that UCCS has made great progress in a positive direction in the last 10 years,” said Schwartz.

     “We certainly hope to learn from our site visitors some ways that we can continue to improve, but we’re also very excited to show them UCCS, have them meet our students, faculty and staff, and learn about what we do here because we’re proud of it.”

     The detailed schedule can be found, along with further information about the accreditation process, at http://communique.uccs. edu/?p=24803.