Higher Learning Commission Assurance Review update

Faculty and staff participating in NIU’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Assurance Review process have completed a second draft of their written assurance argument on the university’s progress toward continuous accreditation.

The argument will now be reviewed by senior-level leaders across the university between Wednesday, March 28, and Wednesday, April 11.

“Our HLC Assurance Review team has worked diligently over the past several months to put together a comprehensive draft report,” says Carolinda Douglass, vice provost for Institutional Effectiveness and NIU’s accreditation liaison officer to the HLC.

This high-level review is the next step toward completion of the final version of the argument, which is due Monday, June 25, to the HLC, Douglass says.

Peer reviewers assigned by the HLC then will examine and evaluate the report online until Wednesday, July 25.
Administrators of NIU websites and web pages are asked to ensure that all content is current and accurate. Also, Douglass says, during that month-long period from June 25 to July 25, members of NIU’s Assurance Review team will receive questions from the peer reviewers and will reach out to campus offices with specific questions and a quick deadline for answers.

Douglass is grateful for what her NIU colleagues have completed so far.

The 40 members of NIU’s five Criteria Groups have uncovered “the story NIU has to tell about our growth in key areas including transparency, engagement, diversity and key initiatives we’ve had on campus since our last accreditation review such as Program Prioritization and NIU Plus,” Douglass says.

“What’s really exciting about this process is that it promotes an opportunity for reflection as we tell our stories,” she adds, “not only to the HLC but also to ourselves.”

NIU’s HLC accreditation, a visible indication of the university’s commitment to quality and accountability, was renewed in 2014 for 10 years.

But the “Open Pathway” for maintaining that accreditation requires the Assurance Review status check to assess the quality and efficacy of NIU’s mission and programs in the fourth year of accreditation. Doing so allows NIU to address any challenges and to reaffirm its dedication to providing an excellent education.

Five criteria define the work, which is looking at the period from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2017:

  • Mission
  • Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  • Teaching and Learning-Quality, Resources and Support
  • Teaching and Learning-Evaluation and Improvement
  • Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness

“It’s been rewarding to survey initiatives we’ve embarked on since the comprehensive self-study four years ago,” adds Doris Macdonald, co-chair of the Mission group. “The campus community has invested great energy in examining programs and services across the board that demonstrates our commitment to continued improvement.”

The peer reviewers will provide feedback and recommendations to the HLC about NIU’s ongoing accreditation which will be reviewed by members of the HLC Institutional Actions Council.

NIU will receive a final report on the review this fall.
For more information on the assurance review process, contact Douglass at 815-753-0492 or cdoug@niu.edu.

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