Mount Union Approved for Accreditation
April 02, 2013
ALLIANCE, Ohio — Exactly 100 years after first becoming accredited, the University of Mount Union has been approved for continuation of its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to be reset in 2019-2020.
Mount Union previously went through the accreditation process in 2002 and has since entered a new pathway called the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Prior to that, the University was involved in Program Evaluation Assurance of Quality (PEAQ). The AQIP pathway is a more incremental process that incorporates more learning and growing along the way.
The University voluntarily entered the AQIP program due to its continuous improvement methodology and University officials believed a more interactive program would benefit and strengthen the institution. Accreditation makes it possible for students at an institution to seek federal grants and student loans.
“It’s a very worthwhile endeavor to move to AQIP and it will encourage the University of Mount Union to be as accountable and transparent as possible to the public,” said Mount Union President Dr. Richard F. Giese. “I’m very proud of the outcome of the most recent process.”
According to Susan Denning, director of institutional effectiveness and accreditation, all accreditation processes are based on Mount Union’s mission, strategic plan and the assessment of student learning outcomes. The AQIP process was overseen by a steering committee made up of faculty, staff and students.
As part of the AQIP process, Denning said, the University completed an extensive systems portfolio with more than 80 faculty members, staff members, students, trustees and alumni involved. The portfolio was sent to the HLC, where a team of seven peer reviewers looked at it and Mount Union’s website to determine whether the University accurately portrayed its mission. The next step in the process was a visit to campus by HLC representatives, who determined that the University was keeping student learning first and foremost in its mission. Based on that report, a larger panel made an overall assessment and recommended to the Board of the HLC that Mount Union be reaffirmed.
“This process illustrates our firm commitment to academic quality and our strong focus on student achievement,” said Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University. "We will continue to use this process to learn how we can best meet the needs of today's students."
According to Denning, the federal government requires that the HLC conduct a review at least once every 10 years. Since Mount Union has entered the AQIP process, however, a review will take place every seven years.
The next step in the process for Mount Union will take place when members of Mount Union’s Board of Trustees, President’s Council and faculty attend a strategy forum in Chicago to set an agenda for continuous improvement projects over the next few years.
According to ncahlc.org, (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits, and thereby grants membership in the Commission and in the North Central Association, degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.