Campus Prepares for HLC Site Visit
Northern administrators are completing the necessary groundwork in anticipation of the March 25-27 campus visit by representatives of the Academic Quality Improvement Program. AQIP provides an alternative process for universities to maintain their accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, with an emphasis on continuous quality improvement.
“We’re in good shape, but we’ve got a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Cindy Prosen (Academic Affairs). “Right now we’re working with the visitors to set the agenda for the March visit. The visitors have a set agenda that they use at all universities, and we are working with them to tailor that agenda to make sure that they see the things that set NMU apart from other universities.”
Completing the required documentation has consumed the bulk of the preparation effort. Prosen said more than 20 people were involved in AQIP-related writing over the summer and even more were recruited for the start of the academic year.
“AQIP wants our entire accreditation history—the action projects we’ve identified and what we’ve accomplished, along with our previous accreditation records,” Prosen added. “We also submitted a systems portfolio in 2006 that explained how we do business as a university. AQIP responded to that document and now we are rewriting our systems portfolio in response to their comments.
“One thing that AQIP is mandated to do is make sure we’re not breaking any federal rules. Let me be clear—we’re not; but of course, we need to document that. For example, does Northern disclose campus crimes? How do we determine tuition rates and fees? How do we follow up on student complaints? All of this is required by agencies approved by the Department of Education, including the Higher Learning Commission, to ensure that institutions are approved for accreditation before they can receive federal funds.”
Prosen said she and other administrators are taking advantage of any opportunities they can to discuss AQIP on campus. “This is a different process than in the past, so we are trying our best to explain it to the university community and to keep everyone updated."