In less than a year, representatives from the Higher Learning Commission will visit TCC as part of the College’s 10-year accreditation cycle.
A team of approximately seven HLC peer reviewers will be on campus Sept. 24-25, 2018 for an in-person evaluation of how TCC meets the commission’s five accreditation criteria.
Accreditation is important to the TCC community for a number of reasons, said Dr. Kevin David, West Campus provost and associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, who serves as the HLC accreditation liaison officer for the College.
“The most important reason for having accreditation through the HLC is financial aid,” David said. “Our students can’t get federal financial aid if we are not regionally accredited.”
Accreditation also plays a key role in the acceptance of TCC’s transfer credits when students transfer to other colleges and universities.
The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting, post-secondary educational institutions in the north central region, which includes Oklahoma and 18 other states.
TCC began preparing in earnest for the site visit in 2013 when more than 100 faculty, administrators, and staff members began preparing evidence to be presented to the HLC. Currently, 10 people serve on the HLC Assurance Committee. Co-chairs are Paula Settoon, dean of libraries and knowledge management, and Dr. Lisa Gerow, associate professor of nursing.
“We’re currently involved in a lot of activities in preparation for the visit,” Gerow said. “One of the requirements for the site visit is that we have to write what is called an assurance argument. It’s similar to what used to be called a self-study document. It’s a reflective piece with evidence documenting how the institution meets each of the HLC criteria for accreditation.”
“We’ve spent a few years already gathering evidence for all the criteria and started last spring writing our assurance argument,” Settoon said. “We are working on finalizing our first complete draft of that right now.”
For the remainder of the 2017-2018 academic year, TCC has engagement and communications activities planned to bring in a broader group of faculty and staff to help them understand not only the importance of accreditation but what the criteria are.
Accreditation criteria include:
- Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
- Teaching and Learning: Quality Resources and Support
- Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
- Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
So, what happens when the HLC committee actually visits the TCC campus next September? David, who serves as an HLC peer reviewer of other institutions, lays out the scenario.
“Although it varies somewhat from visit to visit, they will typically want to meet with a group of students; they will want to meet with faculty; they will want to meet with the President’s cabinet,” he said. “They’ll want to meet with some key areas such as our committee on assessment of student learning outcomes; they will probably want to meet with academic advisors; and they will likely want to meet with our finance staff.”
While TCC’s HLC Assurance Committee continues to seek campus input on gaps that remain in its assurance argument, David is confident the college is well prepared for the site visit.
“You never want to count your chickens before they hatch,” he said. “Most institutions get dinged for one thing or another. You are never going to have a perfect review. But we have made great strides, particularly since President Goodson came on board three years ago, in shoring up a lot of our processes and systems to make sure that students have as seamless and as positive an experience as possible. So, I feel pretty good about it.”
More information about HLC and TCC’s upcoming site visit can be found at the HLC@TCC website