Higher Learning Commission's visit in February
Interim President Matthew J. Wilson
I am so grateful for the collaborative spirit that is growing once again on our campus.
It is vitally important that we rally together as we move UA forward, and one part of that effort is preparing for our next visit from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Our report to the HLC is due in December, and we are now organizing the Assurance Argument writing teams. We have a condensed timeline but several factors in our favor make me confident we can produce a strong report that assures the HLC that The University of Akron meets the criteria for accreditation. Here are a few of those factors:
► New HLC reporting method. Instead of the narrative format used in the past, the HLC now uses evidentiary statements to evaluate the quality of data the institution presents in support of it meeting the criteria/core components. In fact, word limits have been imposed to force institutions to focus their responses on context, evidence, and links to data and documents. You can read more about the details of criteria online, but in brief they are:
- Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support
- Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
- Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
We also have writing teams for three other areas:
- Federal Compliance
- Embedded Monitoring Report on Assessment
- Embedded Monitoring Report on Governance
► Organizational readiness. Many members of the tiger team, which kept the University moving forward during a transitional period this summer, have agreed to serve on the writing teams. They have demonstrated an ability and willingness to work effectively and efficiently. As with the tiger team, these writing teams may call upon others in our community to help assemble the needed data and information. I urge everyone to respond quickly, enthusiastically, and collaboratively to requests by these writing teams.
► Collaborative capacity. For this HLC report we will utilize the Qualtrics survey tool that was so effective in empowering everyone on campus to contribute their recommendations and ideas to the tiger team this summer. The writing teams and the provost’s office will shoulder most of the responsibilities for this project, but they need broad community input to produce a robust and effective Assurance Argument.
Again, I urge everyone to go to the HLC page on our website to learn more about the members of the writing teams, details about the criteria and evidence needed to demonstrate that we meet those requirements, and how you can help contribute to this effort.
This is the timeline for the Assurance Argument:
- Early September: Writing teams organize and begin initial work.
- All of September: The University community contributes via a Qualtrics survey that will made available later this week.
- Early October: Writing teams begin drafts of their sections of the Assurance Argument.
- Halloween: Writing teams submit drafts to provost’s office, which begins synthesizing them into a draft Assurance Argument.
- Thanksgiving: Draft Assurance Argument is published online for a 10-day public comment period, after which the provost’s office will make final revisions.
- Mid-December: Provost’s office submits the Assurance Argument to the HLC and posts it on the UA HLC website.
The next step in the process is a site visit from an HLC team in mid-February (Valentine’s Day). There is much we need to do to prepare for that as well, but the first order of business is to prepare a strong, effective Assurance Argument.
Again, I want to emphasize the importance of this project. It also represents an opportunity for us to pull together and produce tangible evidence that this University is as good as we know it to be.
Thank you in advance for your participation and work on this important project.
Matthew J. Wilson