The College of Mount St. Joseph has a long standing tradition of excellence in the quality of its educational programs. To ensure the continuation of this quality, the Mount, just like many other colleges and universities across the nation, undergoes a regional accreditation evaluation every 10 years through the Higher Learning Commission.
The Higher Learning Commission is a peer review system that employs professors from other accredited institutions to evaluate schools on their academic policies and to make sure that they are in compliance with the standards set forth by the federal government.
Dr. Diana Davis, the Dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at the Mount is Chair of the Steering Committee that is preparing for the college’s evaluation for the 2015-2016 academic year and says that it is very important for a school to become accredited.
“This process guarantees that the degrees that students earn are meeting the standards that academic institutions are setting for themselves,” says Davis. “Being an accredited institution also allows students to be able to receive federal funding and loans for tuition.”
Going through the accreditation process is a detailed undertaking. The Higher Learning Commission outlines several criteria for a college or university to meet and then the school must submit responses along with physical examples of how they meet these requirements.
“In past years, all submissions were written physical reports, but now we are able to use an all-electronic system,” says Davis, “This makes our record keeping and updates to future reports easier.”
There will also be a site visit to the Mount sometime during the 2015-2016 academic year by selected professors representing the Higher Learning Commission, who will also give their findings in the final report.
As part of the process, the Mount will be required to file another submission of responses and physical examples showing the quality of their academic programs and compliance of federal regulations in another four years, but no on-site visit will be needed.
While the accreditation process takes a lot of work, it is extremely beneficial to the school, says Davis.
“This really is a positive thing,” she says. “Along with receiving peer feedback from professors from other schools, it also ensures the continuation of quality in higher education.”
Including Davis, there are 35 faculty and staff members on the committees readying the Mount for the accreditation process along with 5 additional members contributing to PR, web technology, and managing evidence files.