Higher Learning Commission grades UWS

The Higher Learn­ing com­mis­sion, an inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tion that reviews col­leges for accred­i­ta­tion, recently paid a visit to the UWS Cam­pus for exactly that rea­son ear­lier this month.  Accred­i­ta­tion is some­thing a cam­pus like UWS seeks in order to hold more value as a col­le­giate level edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tion and more impor­tantly help dis­trib­ute finan­cial aid to its stu­dents and also what courses can be offered on cam­pus.  How­ever, the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings of UWS brought forth both the strengths and weak­ness of the cam­pus in the eyes of the commission.

The HLC released their pre­lim­i­nary find­ings as part of an exit inter­view. UWS has also per­formed its own self study exam­in­ing its per­sonal mis­sion as a cam­pus, the val­ues pro­moted on cam­pus and the pro­mo­tion of UWS’s strong lib­eral arts pro­grams. These val­ues can be seen on posters through­out var­i­ous areas of cam­pus to help empha­size those key values.

The HLC took a tour of cam­pus on March 4th through the 6th and cre­ated a brief overview of some of the strengths and weak­nesses they found here at UWS. These find­ings were detailed in an exit inter­view with the HLC Peer Review Team Chair and are not the final assess­ments as that process will take longer and be released in a final report later this year.

Some of the strengths found here at UWS were the pos­i­tive and active asso­ci­a­tion we have with the com­mu­nity at large through stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions and the how they relate back into UWS. Another key part of the UWS sys­tem that was praised by the Com­mis­sions was the Cen­ter for Excel­lence in Teach­ing and Learn­ing and how it con­tributes to Facil­ity and Staff devel­op­ment in order to improve the learn­ing process here on cam­pus.  UWS was also praised for its empha­sis on diver­sity on cam­pus through the Gen­der Equity and Mul­ti­cul­tural Affairs offices.

How­ever in point­ing out the strengths here on the UWS cam­pus they also observed some weak­nesses that UWS Staff are address­ing. One minor point addressed was the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem on cam­pus. They stressed it “needs improve­ment” in both inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems as well as those try­ing to con­tact the cam­pus from out­side.  The HLC also pointed to a loss of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and a need to include all employ­ees in that process. They also placed a strong impor­tance of the strength of aca­d­e­mic syl­labi and how dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the same course need to have the same goals and a cor­re­la­tion between what is expected from a class com­pared to con­tent being presented.

Major prob­lems they felt were nec­es­sary to solve where issues related to the gen­eral edu­ca­tion goals fit­ting in with other Lib­eral Edu­ca­tion Learn­ing goals. This issue com­bined with an ease­ment of Stu­dent Learn­ing Out­comes and the need to com­mu­ni­cate them to the entire cam­pus with the infor­ma­tion on how they may affect bud­get­ing were listed as “More Seri­ous” by the HLC. Addi­tion­ally was the need to orga­nize data usage on cam­pus in a more strate­gic sense to help in mak­ing impor­tant campus-wide decisions.

The HLC will file a draft report and sub­mit it to UWS with a more detailed exam­i­na­tion of what need to be improved upon. They empha­sized that rep­re­sen­ta­tives from cam­pus attend an HLC meet­ing to gain more infor­ma­tion about new processes in accred­i­ta­tion. UWs will receive a final report from the HLC around June 6 of this year.

Image cour­tesy of Felic­ity Bosk — The Stinger
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