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Preparation underway for accreditation visit

Oct. 20, 2008

KALAMAZOO--An Oct. 6 event for representatives from across the campus served as the official kickoff for Western Michigan University's preparations for a comprehensive accreditation visit in 2010-11 from the Higher Learning Commission.

Dr. Andrew Lootens-White, the HLC's associate director of accreditation, addressed some 70 WMU faculty and staff members who will undertake an intensive campus self-study in preparation for the formal HLC visit. Lootens-White, who was introduced to the group by WMU President John M. Dunn, will serve as the University's liaison with the HLC during the accreditation process. In his talk, he outlined the five criteria used for accreditation.

Five criteria used for accreditation

  • Mission and integrity
  • Preparation for the future
  • Student learning and effective teaching
  • Acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge
  • Engagement and service

Lootens-White also explored the benefits of the self-study process, which he said is designed to identify how institutions meet the criteria and where they face challenges. He stressed the individual nature of each self-study and noted the mission and goals of the University will be of primary importance.

"The nature of the institution is really the lens through which the judgment is made about how well the institution meets the criteria," he said. "The process is designed to evaluate, with evidence, where the institution has been, where it is and where it wants to be in the future."

The accreditation process, he said, "is focused on fairness, due process and peer evaluation."

Guiding WMU's HLC accreditation initiative is Dr. Eileen Evans, vice provost for institutional effectiveness. Her office and responsibilities were established following the 2001 site visit, when institutional strategic planning and assessment of student academic achievement were identified as particular areas of challenge for the institution. HLC peer-reviewers assessed the University's progress in those areas during a mandated November 2005 focused visit. The commission announced WMU's successful completion of that assessment in May 2006.

WMU has been accredited by the North Central Association continuously since 1915. The last comprehensive self-examination and subsequent site visit in 2001 were part of the regular reaccreditation process that occurs every 10 years. The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The HLC accredits, and thereby grants membership in the commission and in the North Central Association to degree-granting educational institutions in the 19-state North Central region.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8412, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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