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President's Desk

A visit from the Higher Learning Commission

Oct 11, 2021

Greetings from VCSU!

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) was formed in 1895 as the North Central Association. This is a voluntary association of diverse institutions with a common purpose: the continuing improvement of higher education. The HLC is one of six regional accreditors in the United States. Its mission is to “advance the common good through quality assurance of higher education as the leader in equitable, transformative and trusted accreditation in the service of students and member institutions.”

VCSU is part of the open pathway review process, which occurs in a ten-year cycle. The cycle includes an assurance review in year four, a quality initiative in years five through nine and a comprehensive evaluation in year ten.

Our on-site evaluation as part of the comprehensive evaluation took place on campus September 20-21. Before the visit, we submitted a comprehensive assurance argument addressing five different criteria. These criteria are the standards of quality by which HLC determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation.

  • Criterion 1. Mission
  • Criterion 2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  • Criterion 3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support
  • Criterion 4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
  • Criterion 5. Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning

VCSU prepared for this review in a thorough and thoughtful manner with input and guidance from the entire campus community. Faculty, staff, and student participation provided critically important details and information for the report. Our campus community also met with the HLC visit team during open forums on campus.

We had excellent participation in the open forums, and the writing team and criterion chairs for the assurance argument did a tremendous job in gathering data, preparing our documents, and leading the university through this process. Special thanks to Dr. Margaret Dahlberg, Dr. Katie Woehl, Dr. Anthony Dutton, Emily Dafoe, Dr. Kerry Gregoryk and Dr. Jamie Wirth.

During the exit interview, the HLC site visit team identified several strengths at VCSU. They noted our strong sense of community, reputation of the institution, strong state support, active engagement of the State Board of Higher Education, data-driven decision making, successful navigation of Covid, and strong shared governance. We will not receive our final written report for several weeks, we are thankful to all for their participation and feedback.

Once we receive our written report, we will be providing another update on our path toward re-accreditation with HLC.

Go Vikings!

“Accreditation” is review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides a quality education.
—Council for Higher Education Accreditation