POWELL, Wyo. - "The Northwest College reaccreditation effort is on track and looking good," Duane Fish, chair of the NWC Accreditation Committee, announced this week.
"The reaccreditation process is a normal part of doing business for any reputable institution of higher education," Fish said. "It's a huge self-study project that began three years before the accreditation review team was even scheduled to visit campus to discover and report on its findings."
Northwest is preparing to host a reaccreditation team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in November.
"Over the last 46 years, Northwest has been granted reaccreditation every time it's been reviewed," Fish said. "There's no reason to believe the result will be any different this time."
In its 2010 self-study document, the college identifies five significant changes that have affected the institution's culture since 2001, when it last received reaccreditation. Those five changes are in leadership, shared governance, the culture of assessment, increases in international student population and changes at the state level.
The college's effectiveness is examined in the document through five prisms--mission and integrity; planning for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service.
"We've literally spent years researching and evaluating each of these areas," Fish said. "It's a big undertaking for faculty and staff who have put in so much heart and soul to make NWC the best it can be. Through this document, we're telling our students and our communities that they can take confidence in knowing we're still delivering a good education to anyone who walks through our doors. This hasn't changed in the last 10 years. That's what reaccreditation is all about."
While every college employee has been exposed to the reaccreditation process in some way, a team of 16 faculty and staff comprise the self-study executive committee that did the lion's share of the work in creating the report.
HLC accreditation assures the public and prospective students that NWC meets clearly stated requirements and criteria and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will continue to meet them. Without accreditation, NWC can't ensure that transfer institutions will accept students' credits, nor can it administer federal financial aid to students. Accreditation also provides NWC an opportunity to ask the communities it serves to contribute to the self-analysis.
An HLC team will provide its accreditation recommendation to NWC following its Nov. 15-17, 2010, visit to the campus. More information about the commission and the reaccreditation process can be found on the HLC Web site.