MARQUETTE  -- Northern Michigan University has received notification from the Higher Learning Commission of its acceptance into the Academic Quality Improvement Project (AQIP) and has received an extension of its accreditation until 2009-10.   The notification officially moves Northern from the traditional Higher Learning Commission (formerly North Central Association) model of accreditation to the AQIP program, a subdivision of HLC.  Accreditation, as with the previous NCA accreditation, remains in effect as long as NMU remains active in the organization and demonstrates commitment to quality improvement.  AQIP differs from the HLC model in its focus on “continuous quality improvement.”

“One advantage of the AQIP model is that it allows us to get input from a broader cross section of the campus.  Its focus is not on a small committee documenting what we’ve done the past 10 years but rather on a broad-based consensus on what we plan to do in the future,” said Leonard Heldreth, associate provost for academic affairs and NMU’s AQIP coordinator.

“The other advantage is that you work on projects in a three-year cycle, not 10 years, which makes more sense for today’s constantly changing society,” he added.  “It’s hard to plan what skills graduates will need 10 years from now – look at all the workplace changes of the past 10 years.”

Northern has already completed two phases of the AQIP accreditation process, having done a campus-wide online survey of faculty and staff in September which was followed by a “campus conversation day” attended by more than 500 NMU faculty and staff members.  A third required element, attendance at a Strategy Session with five other post-secondary institutions, will occur near Chicago in late February.  Then, an online university systems portfolio will be created and posted on the Web over the next three years.

Of the 79 “provocative proposals” created at the campus conversation, five to eight will be selected by NMU and presented to AQIP and other schools for criticism and response in February. From these, three will be selected as NMU’s “quality improvement projects” to be worked on over the next three years.

Prepared By
Cindy Paavola
Director of Communications