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Intro to Institutional Accreditation

Institutional Accreditation

Notre Dame College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The College’s Office of Assessment and Accreditation is responsible for coordinating efforts to prepare for the accrediting agency’s periodic site visits and reviews. Notre Dame last underwent a comprehensive self-study and site visit during the 2006-2007 academic year. The next comprehensive evaluation will be in 2016-2017.

Notre Dame College’s Statement of Affiliation Status (confirmation of accreditation) can be accessed on the Higher Learning Commission’s website.

Specialized Program Accreditation

In addition to the College’s accreditation, many programs also maintain specialized accreditation. The evaluation of the program is conducted by a specialized accrediting agency, one that is often associated with a national professional organization. A list of accredited programs is available online.

General Information about Accreditation

What is Accreditation?

In the United States, colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. Notre Dame is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The HLC has designed the accreditation process to achieve its mission: Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher education.

HLC evaluates the College in terms of its mission and HLC’s five criteria. HLC considers formal educational activities, governance and administration, financial stability, admissions, student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, institutional morale and relationships with internal and external constituencies.

The Value of Accreditation

Accreditation provides public certification of acceptable institutional quality. It also provides institutions with the opportunity to undergo a process of critical self-analysis resulting in an opportunity for self -improvement. Although the term compliance is sometimes used synonymously with HLC and reaffirmation of accreditation, ultimately, the process is in place to promote continuous improvement.

The Accreditation Process

The HLC has developed a new model for continued accreditation through a program called Pathways. Pathways separates the continued accreditation process into two components: the assurance process and the improvement process. Notre Dame is in the Open Pathway. The Open Pathway separates the continued accreditation process into two components: the Assurance Review and the Quality Initiative Project.

The Quality Initiative Project

Notre Dame’s Quality Initiative Project is focusing on student persistence and completion. There is a persistence and completion committee that has been working on this Quality Initiative Project. The final report on the quality initiative is due to HLC August 2016.

The Assurance Review – HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation

The Criteria for Accreditation are organized into five major headings. Each criterion has two elements: 1) Criterion Statement and 2) Core Components.

The Criterion Statements define necessary attributes of an institution accredited by HLC. An institution addresses each Core Component by presenting evidence of meeting the criterion. An institution must be judged to have met each of the criteria to be reaffirmed for accreditation.

The Assurance Review and Assurance Argument

HLC has developed an updated process for reaffirmation of accreditation. Notre Dame will complete an assurance review, which is analogous to a self- study, by amassing an electronic evidence file. The evidence file consists of direct evidence of attainment of the criteria. The assurance review culminates in the writing of a narrative, the assurance argument. The Assurance Argument introduces each criterion, succinctly discusses the evidence with direct links to the evidence and then summarizes how the college meets the criteria.

The Site Visit

The site visit is scheduled for April 10-11, 2017. The site visit team consists of a group of peer reviewers who will come to campus and meet with various constituencies (administrators, faculty, staff, and students).