UT well-prepared for Higher Learning Commission changes

October 8, 2014 | News, UToday, Medicine and Life Sciences, UTMC
By Aimee Portala

During a campus visit in 2012, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) voted to continue The University of Toledo’s accreditation, with the next comprehensive evaluation to be conducted in 2021-2022.

However, the commission has since revised its criteria and implemented a new pathway process, including more frequent visits. The restructured criteria are influenced by federal guidelines and place a greater focus on compliance and accountability issues.

accreditation imageThe HLC is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The commission accredits degree-granting, post-secondary educational institutions.

To best prepare for the HLC visits and evaluations, the Office of the Provost established a steering committee led by Dr. Dorothea Sawicki, vice provost for health science affairs and university accreditation, along with co-chairs Dr. David Meabon, associate professor of educational leadership, and Dr. Akira Takashima, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

“Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission is important to the University as it signifies that UT is in compliance with all the standards and criteria needed by an institution of higher education in the United States,” Sawicki said. “Accreditation means we have been granted membership in the Higher Learning Commission, that we are qualified to participate in federal programs that provide student financial aid and faculty research funding, and that our undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates are recognized as meeting this same high standard.”

Five criterion teams also have been created to prepare an evidence-based self-study documenting how The University of Toledo has met all five required criteria: Mission; Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct; Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support; Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; and Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

The Office of Assessment, Accreditation and Program Review held a kickoff breakfast to recognize the criterion teams and to educate them, along with some senior leadership, about the HLC process and expectations.

“The kickoff breakfast was a chance to introduce the criterion team leaders and team members, and to thank them for the work they’ve already begun and will continue throughout this process,” said Heather Huntley, director of university accreditation and program review. “Some of the University’s senior leadership members were also invited so they could be aware of the faculty, staff and students participating on the teams, and to learn more about the Higher Learning Commission pathways and assurance argument process.”

The Higher Learning Commission will return to campus April 11-12, 2016, for the next scheduled visit.

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