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POWELL, Wyo. ─ Wheels are in full motion at Northwest College as it prepares for reaccreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
In a voluntary peer review process, the HLC evaluates how well colleges and universities meet criteria, according to NWC President Stefani Hicswa.
“Accreditation indicates to other colleges and universities—and to the public—that we meet established criteria and will likely continue to meet them,” Hicswa said. “Without accreditation, we can neither ensure that transfer institutions will accept our students’ credits, nor can we administer federal financial aid to students — basic elements at the core of any institution of higher education.”
The HLC (https://www.hlcommission.org) is a regional accreditation agency that accredits degree-granting higher education institutions in the 19-state north central region of the country.
“NWC currently has full HLC accreditation,” Hicswa explained. “The upcoming visit is a routine part of the accreditation process.”
Colleges and universities that the commission accredits are evaluated against the following five criteria that must be met in order to receive and/or maintain accredited status.
“Critical self-analysis is a huge part of the accreditation process because it leads to improving quality,” Hicswa emphasized.
NWC’s accreditation steering committee’s work started almost two years ago, drafting narratives and gathering evidence to support assertions that the college meets HLC criteria. That writing, informed by input from the campus community, will flow into what the HLC refers to as an “assurance argument” that must be submitted online early this coming summer.
The public will have an opportunity to provide written comments to the HLC after the first of the year.
An HLC team of consultant evaluators will prepare its recommendation to the HLC after visiting NWC on Sept. 11-12, 2017.