April 04, 2017
After UCCS administration prepared for more than a year, a team of faculty members from other campuses conducted interviews with students, faculty and staff and evaluated the university through the Higher Learning Commission last year.
The evaluation team visited the university Nov. 14-15, but the results of the full review process of several months were not released until March 6, when the North Central Association of HLC granted UCCS a 10- year reaccreditation.
HLC, which accredits degree-granting collegiate institutions in 19 states, had not visited UCCS since 2006, according to Terry Schwartz, associate vice chancellor for Academic and Faculty Affairs.
“When (students) graduate, they’ll be able to say that their degree is from an accredited institution, which looks good for employers and grad schools,” she said.
Students can also more easily transfer credits to and from other accredited universities, she said.
Accreditation is important for the ethical management of resources and federal financial aid that help fund the university. But the benefits stretch beyond financial logistics, said Schwartz.
“It’s an external validation of the quality of the university,” she said. “(The accreditation) is important in recruiting students, for when faculty submit grants and for recruiting faculty and staff.”
“People want to work at a place that’s a quality institution,” said Schwartz.
Accreditation is based on an institutions ability to meet the expectations of five core competencies, according to the HLC website.
These competencies include Mission; Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct; Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support; Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement and Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.
These competencies have changed within the last decade, but the university met all of them exceptionally well, according to Schwartz.
Exceeding the expectations of each competency was important; none were emphasized more than others, she said.
Some feedback sessions in November were open to all campus members in addition to closed sessions. One open session was attended by as many as 40 students, according to a Nov. 28, 2016 Scribe article concerning the accreditors’ visit.
HLC has reviewed 56 Colorado institutions including UCCS, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College, according to the HLC website.