As many on the NIU campus know, university faculty and staff are in the final stages of a two-year preparation effort to welcome a team of peer reviewers from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to campus March 3 through March 5.
Every 10 years, at minimum, higher education institutions undergo a 360-degree external review from academic peers as part of its institutional accreditation process. The HLC accreditors established five important criteria the peer-review site committee will examine during their visit:
- A clearly articulated mission that guides NIU’s operations;
- Institutional integrity;
- Delivery of a high-quality education;
- Responsibility for the quality of programs, learning environments and support services is demonstrated and evaluated for continuous improvement; and
- 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.
Prior to and since my arrival, we have engaged the NIU community in a rigorous process designed to evaluate and improve each and every area of the university to build NIU into a national model of 21st century higher education.
Our keystone goal of student career success permeates our mission of promoting excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service. The pillars upon which the overarching goal of student career success rest include ethically inspired leadership, thriving communities and financial and program viability.
In October 2013, I announced an administrative realignment designed to better serve our institutional priorities in a way that allows us to live our mission in a sustainable manner and enhance collaboration between disciplines within the university as well as between students, faculty, alumni and community members.
Led by Interim Executive Vice President & Provost Lisa Freeman, NIU is busy reinventing the undergraduate academic experience with a focus on general education requirements and working hard to improve the NIU student experience. We are making the campus and community not only a place where students want to come for a quality education, but one where they are drawn and return to experience all the “communiversity” has to offer.
You will hear more about our efforts to improve the way we live our NIU mission in the coming days and months. Thanks to each of you for your involvement as we sustain and advance NIU and our campus community in a rapidly changing national higher education landscape.