NWC News Desk

Northwest College Receives Kudos from the Higher Learning Commission

Posted September 12, 2022
By NWC News Desk

Northwest College recently received a positive mid-cycle assurance review from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) regarding its ongoing accreditation. The HLC review team unanimously re-affirmed that NWC has met the criteria for accreditation, with no further interim monitoring required this cycle. NWC’s next accreditation review is scheduled for 2027-28.

From the review summary: “Kudos to the NWC team for writing a thorough Assurance Argument and for their diligence in providing additional evidence when requested. NWC lives its mission and provides robust programming and support for its students and the community.”

“Receiving such a positive report from the HLC reflects the strength of this institution,” said NWC President Lisa Watson. “We could not have accomplished this without a lot of hard work from our faculty and staff. Their commitment to the accreditation process and best practices is what made this possible, and I’m extremely thankful for the effort of everyone involved in the Year Four report.”

The five-person peer-review team evaluated the College in five major categories:

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

Among the highlights noted by the review team were a clear mission statement that firmly guides the College’s operations; comprehensive policies and procedures that provide guardrails for students and staff to operate in an ethical manner; and policies that ensure and support the freedom of expression both in and out of the classroom.

The team also cited NWC’s healthy mix of workforce-ready (AAS/BAS) and transfer-intended (AA/AS) credentials, along with transfer and articulation agreements with the University of Wyoming, other Wyoming community colleges, and four-year institutions in neighboring states. Clear credentialing requirements and qualification standards for faculty and student support services were among the other examples mentioned when applauding the College.

NWC’s course delivery method, which includes face-to-face, online, hybrid and concurrent enrollment options was another plus in the eyes of the review team. The 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, variety of student services, and a strong IT and Computing Services department were other factors that contributed to the HLC’s positive review.

The College was also praised for having the highest completion rate among Wyoming Community Colleges in 2020-21 and establishing clear student success goals. Along those lines, NWC expanded its First Year Seminar to all degree programs in 2017 and has been offering the course during the summer at no charge to students; created the HELP early alert notification; originated the HERO Grant to help students needing emergency financial support; invested in Guided Pathways/Student Planner software; and promotes a 15-to-finish initiative that encourages students to take 15-credit hours a term.

Overall, the review team commended the College for maintaining structures, processes and planning that demonstrates its commitment to its stated mission. The report stated:

“Despite financial challenges, the College demonstrates a strong commitment to quality of educational offerings and has implemented an inclusive planning process that engages all stakeholders. It is evident that NWC has a solid structure in place to account for both future challenges, opportunities and the ever-changing student landscape.”

The HLC is one of seven regional agencies in the United States that provide institutional accreditation. Founded in 1895, it accredits approximately 1,000 institutions of higher education in the north central region and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. More NWC accreditation information can be found at https://nwc.edu/accreditation.