The Path to Accreditation

January 30, 2018

TCC has undergone massive change since 2014, including gaining a new president and implementing a new strategic plan. What hasn’t changed is the march toward re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

TCC has been preparing for the September visit from the HLC peer review team for five years, and as the date nears, it’s vital all TCC employees understand the importance of institutional accreditation and their role in the process.

Accreditation is important for a number of reasons, and first among those are being able to qualify students for financial aid, and for students to be able to transfer credit hours to other institutions of higher education.

“If we are not accredited, our students will not be eligible for federal financial aid,” says Paula Settoon, dean of libraries and knowledge management. “If we’re not accredited, our students will not be able to transfer their credits to our four-year partner institutions within the state.”

Accreditation is affirmation that TCC operates in the right way, meeting HLC’s criteria for accreditation and incorporating best practices for students, faculty, staff and the Tulsa community. Accreditation validates the strategic plan and the Guided Pathways work the College has embraced.

“We seek accreditation because it’s the right thing to do,” says Dr. Kevin David, West Campus provost and associate vice president for institutional effectiveness. “It holds us accountable so we maintain a certain level of expectation and quality. Every single person at TCC, employee and student, plays a big role in this. It’s important to all of us.”

All those individuals are already involved in the process of accreditation, even if they are not actively preparing for the September visit.   

“All of us at TCC are working toward the mission,” says Dr. Lisa Gerow, associate professor of nursing. “That’s what all the criteria feed into. Are you doing these things?” The criteria for accreditation include:

  1. Mission
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality Resources and Support
  4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
  5. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

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.

The next major milestone for accreditation is the Mock HLC visit April 16-17, which you can read about further down in The Week. Moving forward, The Week will feature a couple of stories a month relevant to the HLC process and how TCC employees play their part in accreditation. Stay tuned.