Students arrived back on Albion’s campus to hear a new buzzword flying around: accreditation.
According to Susan Conner, Albion College provost, accreditation is a process that reaffirms that the college is abiding by its mission statement and is producing a quality education experience for students.
“Everything in the college gets looked at, from academic programs to dining services to finances,” Conner said.
The significance of accreditation is to secure Title IV federal funding. Title IV funding allows colleges to offer work-study programs, Pell Grants, and various student loans. According to Conner, no federal funding is given to unaccredited schools.
In addition to the financial benefits of accreditation, the accreditation process enables the college to do a year-long self-study and reevaluation of all programs.
“Accreditation gives us a good opportunity to reflect on what we do,” said Donna Randall, Albion College president. “If (accreditation) takes place once a decade, you spend a lot of time on it.”
A college Steering Committee composed of faculty and student representatives will submit the year-long assessment to an outside agency called the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) in late August 2010. In November 2010 a five person delegation from the HLC will visit Albion before completing the accreditation process.
“We’re taking this year to do a self study so we can make any necessary changes in time for next summer,” Conner said.
During the year-long study Albion will perform a college-wide audit to ensure that all facets of the college meet the HLC’s five criteria for accreditation: mission and integrity, preparing for the future, student learning and effective teaching, acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge and engagement and service.
“(The Albion College Steering Committee) won’t be implementing any new programs just because of accreditation,” said David Seeley, professor of physics and faculty chair of the Steering Committee. “We should get a better institution out of the deal because of the dedicated internal and external focus that we must place on ourselves during the self-study process and from the feedback we will receive from the accreditation team that will visit us in November 2010.”
Even though August 2010 is 11 months away, the college’s self-study is well underway, according to Conner.
“So far things are going well and everyone has been very cooperative,” said Conner. “Accreditation is a source of pride for the college and it is important that we do a thorough and honest evaluation.”