UCM Prepares for HLC Reaccreditation Visit
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 20, 2014) – A comprehensive review of programs and services conducted by an organization that has continuously accredited the University of Central Missouri since 1915 is planned for March 10-12. A site visit team representing the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) will have an opportunity to review progress made at the university since its last reaccreditation visit in 2004.
An independent corporation of the NCA, the HLC is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States, and it accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in an eight-state region. Getting reaccredited is important because it provides public assurance that the university meets the requirements of the accrediting body. Accreditation validates the quality of a UCM education for current and potential students, alumni, donors, and other university stakeholders. Fulfillment of HLC/NCA standards through accreditation is also important for students’ eligibility for federal and state financial aid.
In a recent memo to university faculty and staff, UCM President Charles Ambrose emphasized the importance of the visit, and thanked members of the campus community who have worked hard to prepare for the HLC comprehensive review. The review includes both the Warrensburg campus and the UCM Summit Center in Lee’s Summit. The team will review UCM’s self-study and supporting documents, meet with administrators, observe classes, and speak with students, faculty, and staff and with members of campus governance groups.
“This is an exciting time for UCM. We have a great story to tell, and we should be extremely proud of the accomplishments and the progress we have made during the past 10 years,” Ambrose noted. He added that on March 12, the chair of the HLC site team will meet with him to share the team’s initial observations and strengths and concerns, as well as information about next steps in the review and decision processes.
Steering and planning committees chaired by the Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, have played an instrumental role in preparing for the HLC visit. The accreditation process gives the university an opportunity to prepare a self-study that identifies the institution’s strengths and weaknesses. Information and data compiled through this effort will be instrumental in the university’s continuous improvement efforts.
The theme for the self-study, “Reasons to Believe,” is built around UCM’s strategic positioning platform. UCM provides a cumulative learning experience for students that offers: engaged learning, a worldly perspective, culture of service, and future-focused academics.
“UCM’s Reasons to Believe are the supporting features that demonstrate how UCM is preparing students to flourish in a world of accelerated change,” Ambrose noted in his memo. “This is our purpose in everything we do and it is why UCM students are able to say with pride that they are ‘Learning to a Greater Degree.’”
Ambrose said it is important that everyone on campus be aware of the four “Reasons to Believe” as they define the institution’s values and will be of interest to HLC during the team’s interaction with members of the campus community. UCM’s self-study team has enlisted the assistance of groups such as the student-led firm, Innovative Public Relations, to help create an awareness of HLC’s visit and to promote the theme for the self-study. Activities such as a photo contest that invites members of the campus community to share photos exemplifying one of the four “Reasons to Believe” is an example of internal efforts to help prepare for the HLC visit.
Members of the HLC planning and steering committees encourage the campus community to familiarize themselves with the 2014 self-study prior to the site visit in March by visiting ucmo.edu/hlc/report/. Other informational materials that can help people prepare for the HLC visit are the Strategic Positioning Platform that helps define UCM and highlights values that are important to the university; the Strategic Governance for Student Success Model that describes how the university makes important decisions related to strategic positioning; and the Strategic Resource Model that identifies the resources UCM uses to support and invest in strategic priorities.