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HLC/NCA Overview

The Higher Learning Commission is a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The NCA has been in existence since 1895, serving in as the evaluative agency for accreditation in higher education on numerous levels.

In 2000, the NCA reorganized, creating the HLC as an independent corporation specifically for the purpose of accrediting institutions of higher learning.

The HLC mission statement is "Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning."

Self Study Goals

During our self-study process, we aspire to:

  1. achieve full continuing accreditation.
  2. breathe life into the new vision and mission statements for the campus while continuing to emphasize our signature themes.
  3. generate discussion of and commitment to common values identified in our campus planning documents, including:
    1. viewing higher education as a public good.
    2. commitment to a learning-centered environment in the context of academic integrity.
    3. encouraging creativity and innovation in pursuit of learning.
    4. meeting the particular needs of our diverse student population.
    5. maintaining mutually supportive relationships with our various communities.
  4. advance the university community's access to pertinent data.
  5. analyze  the assessment and planning structures and processes in order to advance the institutional goal of continuous improvement.
  6. identify priorities for improvement.
  7. promote the celebration of meaningful achievement.

The following criteria and themes constitute the basis on which the university will be examined for continuing accreditation.


The university will be evaluated on five criteria specified by the HLC and highlighted in our self-study.  These criteria have been modified since our last self-study in 2000 and Criterion Five is entirely new. They are:

Criterion One: Mission and Integrity

Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future

Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching

Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

Criterion Five: Engagement and Service


In addition, the HLC expects to see evidence that the university is acting responsibly in terms of the themes below.  These themes focus on our ability to respond to change and plan for the future.

The Future-Oriented Organization

  • Engages in planning
  • Is driven by the mission
  • Understands social and economic change
  • Focuses on the futures of constituents
  • Assesses student learning
  • Supports learning
  • Supports scholarship
  • Creates the capacity for lifelong learning
  • Strengthens organizational learning
  • Serves the common good
  • Serves constituents
  • Creates a culture of service
  • Collaborates
  • Engages in healthy internal communication

The Distinctive Organization

  • Has an unambiguous mission
  • Appreciates diversity
  • Is accountable
  • Is self-reflective
  • Is committed to improvement