The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the largest of the six regional accreditation agencies in the United States. It serves higher educational institutions in nineteen states stretching from Arizona to West Virginia.
IU Northwest is part of the AQIP pathway. The Academic Quality Improvement program (AQIP) is one of several pathways leading to reaffirmation of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. Others include the Open and Standard Pathways. AQIP differs from the other pathways in that it is premised on principles of continuous quality improvement, and its various processes and requirements are designed to assist institutions in achieving quality improvement, along with reaffirming the institution’s accredited status with the Commission once every AQIP cycle.
To make determinations about accreditation, the Commission has established the Criteria for Accreditation, standards of quality that institutions are expected to address. The Criteria emerge out of a set of guiding values that are grounded in shared tenets of the academic community.
The HLC’s guiding values, listed below, undergird the specific criteria and requirements that we will be expected to demonstrate. More complete explanations for each may be found in the New Criteria for Accreditation.
- Focus on student learning
- Education as a public purpose
- Education for a diverse, technological, globally connected world
- A culture of continuous improvement
- Evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation
- Integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior or practice
- Governance for the well-being of the institution
- Planning and management of resources to ensure institutional sustainability
- Mission-centered evaluation
- Accreditation through peer review
The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which the Commission determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. The five criteria are listed below. A complete list of the following criteria with their core components can be found on the HLC Website.
Criterion One. Mission
The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
Criterion Two. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
Criterion Three. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
Criterion Four. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
Criterion Five. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.
To maintain our accreditation, IU Northwest must demonstrate that we are meeting the five Criteria AND all of the Core Components. From the HLC Criteria for Accreditation: “The institution meets the Criterion only if all Core Components are met. The institution must be judged to meet all five Criteria for Accreditation to merit accreditation.”
We must also assure to the HLC that IU Northwest policy and practice adheres to a set of articulated minimum expectations (called “Assumed Practices”) that all institutions must comply with as a practical matter. These are not mission-driven or open to individual institutional interpretation as the Criteria are; rather, these are expected practices that each institution must demonstrate.
Another undertaking is the Federal Compliance Program. Some of the topics addressed in the Federal Compliance Program include credits and program length, student complaints, transfer policies, Title IV, advertising and recruitment, relationships with state entities, and third party comment. The HLC site visit team will conduct an audit to ensure that IU Northwest meets the requirements outlined in the Federal Compliance Program.
In April 2016, a four person peer review team from the Higher Learning Commission will visit IU Northwest. Peer review is a defining characteristic of regional accreditation in the United States and one of ten guiding values articulated in the HLC Criteria for Accreditation. The team of peer reviewers will conduct an on-site visit to verify that the claims made by the institution in the Systems Portfolio and Quality Highlights Report are accurate. They will visit us to conduct interviews and collect additional evidence. When possible, at least one peer reviewer will have also been a part of the team that conducted the institution’s Year 7 Systems Appraisal.
Before the Visit
In advance of the visit, the peer review team receives the Quality Highlights Report, Federal Compliance Filing, Institutional Status and Requirements Report, Student Opinion Survey results and Institutional Update data, along with the institution’s most recent Systems Portfolio, Systems Appraisal, Action Project update and Interim Reports (if any). In addition to the materials provided by IU Northwest, the peer review team will also read any comments submitted to the HLC through the Third-Party Comment process and results of a survey the HLC administers to students six weeks prior to the campus visit.
During the Visit
While on campus, the peer review team will likely spend time meeting with individuals and groups (including open forums with faculty, staff, and students). A schedule of the campus visit will be posted to this website as soon as it becomes available. The Institutional Effectiveness Advisory Committee has developed a set of sample questions peer review team members may ask, which is intended to be a helpful guide in preparing for the campus visit.
After the Visit
Several weeks after the campus visit, the peer review team will prepare a draft report, which will be sent to IU Northwest to review and correct any errors of fact. The team will then prepare a final report of its findings and recommendations for IU Northwest’s accreditation status. IUN will receive a copy of this report and have an opportunity to provide a formal written response to the HLC. The HLC will review the final report and IU Northwest’s response and notify IU Northwest in writing when the review process is completed and final action by the HLC has been determined.
Dr. Scott Epstein, Chair
Executive Vice President for Quality and Effectiveness
Dr. Malcolm Graeme Armstrong
Master of Higher Education Program Coordinator
Upper Iowa University
Dr. Amy Strohmeier Gort
Dean of Arts and Sciences
Dr. James Atkinson
Director, Institutional Research
Eastern New Mexico University, Portales
The HLC/AQIP Leadership Team consists of the members of the Institutional Effectiveness Advisory Committee and include;
Additional significant support was provided by the Northwest Council and the AQIP Working Groups.
Possible Questions the team might ask:
- What do you know about accreditation?
- What do you know about the Higher Learning Commission? Learn more about the HLC and the accreditation process here
- Have you seen or read IU Northwest’s Quality Highlights Report? Find the Quality Highlights Report here
- How would you describe IU Northwest’s mission? Learn more about the IU Northwest mission, vision and values here
- How does your department contribute to IU Northwest’s mission?
- How do you contribute to the university’s mission?
- What does continuous quality improvement mean to you and how do you see it being used across campus?
- What are the university’s current strategic planning priorities? Find the Strategic Priorities here
- How does the campus engage in the strategic planning process?
- What are IU Northwest’s greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- How would you describe the campus climate for diversity? Learn more about our diversity efforts here
- What is it like to work at IU Northwest? How is morale on campus?
- What are the biggest challenges facing IU Northwest? How about challenges specific to your department?
- Describe any campus processes that could be improved or made more efficient.
- What kind of changes are taking place at IU Northwest? Do you see these as positive or not?
Student Drop In Session Tuesday, April 12, 2016 1:00 - 2:00 pm LC105AB
Faculty Drop In Session Tuesday, April 12, 2016 2:00 - 3:00 pm LC105AB
Staff Drop In Session Tuesday, April 12, 2016 2:00 - 3:00 pm LC110
April 11, 2016
7:30 – 8:00
8:00 – 8:30
Meet with the Chancellor
8:30 – 9:45
Introductions/Overview, and AQIP Category 5: Leading and Communicating
Executive Leadership and Faculty Org. Pres.
9:45 – 10:00
10:00 – 11:30
Category 1: Helping Students Learn
General Education Assessment Committee; AEVCAA; select members involved with student support1
11:30 – 12:00
12:00 – 1:30
Board of Advisors, Board of Trustee Representative
1:30 – 2:30
Federal Compliance Review
ALO (EVCAA), AEVCAA, AVCIER, Dir. Of Affirmative Action, Dir. Of Financial Aid, Registrar, CFO
2:30 – 4:00
Category 7: Measuring Effectiveness
OIER (John and Mary Beth), IEAC, and select support staff/admin2
4:00 – 4:30
4:15 – 4:30
Status Update: Review Monday’s Findings, Request any additional data, and preview Tuesday’s agenda
Cynthia O’Dell and John Novak
April 12, 2016
7:30 – 8:00
8:00 – 9:00
Category 6: Supporting Institutional Operations
Category 9: Building Collaborative Relationships
C6: VC for SAEM, CFO, Exec. Dir. Facilities, and Exec. Dir. IT
C9: CURE Dir., and Jim Thomas, others by Invitation3
C6: 140A and C9: 110
9:00 – 10:30
Category 8: Campus Planning and the CQI Cycle
IU Northwest Council
10:30 – 11:00
11:00 – 12:00
Category 4: Valuing People
Category 3: Understanding Students’
C4: Affirmative Action, Dir. DEMA, Dir. HR, Counseling Center Dir., EVCAA, AEVCAA and AVCIER
C3: AEVCAA, Dean of Students, Dir. Career Services, Dir. Marketing and Communication, Dir. Of Student Life, SGA President, CURE representative
C4: 140A and C3: 110
12:00 – 1:00
Thrill of the Grill
1:00 – 2:00
Academic Core and Deans
Student Drop-In Session
140A / 105AB
2:00 – 3:00
Faculty Drop-In Session
Staff Drop-In Session
105AB / 110
3:00 – 4:00
4:00 – 4:30
Exit session with Chancellor
Chancellor , Executive Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness Committee