Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) produce inspiring vision and mission statements, strategic plans, academic master plans, strategic enrollment plans, campus master plans, and many others; but if these plans do not align with how resources are actually allocated, they are merely “plans on a shelf” and not the living documents that IHE’s need to satisfy regional accreditors and stakeholders.
Have you ever dreamed of a solution to your Institutional Effectiveness (IE) challenges, but then realized that there are institutional barriers to your success? We have all been to conferences where we sit in the audience listening to an institution present an amazing “Best Practice” in IE, only to realize that it would never work at our institution due to organizational inertia. Organizational inertia is the tendency of an institution to continue on its current trajectory due to resource or routine rigidity.
Regardless of the emergency situation, whether it be COVID-19 lockdown, inclement weather, or any other issue which prevents face-to-face collaboration on a campus, preparing for accreditation does not stop.
The COVID-19 pandemic has palpably reshaped lives and businesses. Higher education, in particular, has found itself pivoting rapidly to ensure safety, adjust myriad processes, maintain academic rigor, drive administrative productivity, and keep institutions on mission.
Many times, when we are examining our institution’s assessment processes, we find ourselves asking the question, “What does our regional accrediting agency expect in terms of our assessment processes?” In some ways, this hearkens back to when we were doing our chores because our parents made us. Mom wants us to wash the dishes…okay, how well does she want them washed? Now, as adults, we don’t wash the dishes “well enough,” we wash the dishes until they’re clean. Similarly, if we approach our assessment processes focused on the external demands, we’re more likely to run into problems down the road. Rather than doing assessment because “the accreditor says so,” far better to focus on the intrinsic motivations for assessment: we want to improve our programs. We want our students to learn and to be successful after they leave the institution.
Accreditation for institutions of higher education is essential for ensuring that your students are successful in their chosen career paths and for promoting institutional and programmatic excellence. The following outlines what every academic leader must know about the process.
Strategic planning can shape the future of a higher education institution, from effectively managing budgeted funds to driving continuous improvement efforts. Below, we outline ten ways your institution can get the most out of its strategic planning efforts.
Institutional accreditation is an assurance that an institution of higher education meets a series of quality standards. Accreditation standards require institutions to demonstrate that they adhere to good practices in higher education. Furthermore, accrediting agencies should be recognized by organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the US Department of Education. An accrediting agency without this recognition may be seen as an “accreditation mill,” an agency that offers to award accreditation to programs or institutions without the rigor and high standards of the recognized accrediting agencies.
Program accreditation (also called specialized accreditation) is a type of accreditation that is focused on professional preparation programs within institutions of higher education (e.g., the Nursing program, the School of Business, etc.).
So, your institution has an upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)? You’re in good company: the Higher Learning Commission is the largest regional accreditor in the United States, serving institutions in 19 states. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward and prepare for a successful reaffirmation.