On Sept. 10, William Jewell College’s Student Senate hosted a town hall during Jewell time. The purpose of the town hall was to better inform the College community about the upcoming Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visit to Jewell this December.
Anne Dema, provost, talked primarily about what to expect from the HLC visit to Jewell and how the College has prepared for the visit.
Dema explained that when an accrediting body reviews an institution they look at three different aspects of how an institution functions. These three aspects are assumed practices, criteria of accreditation and federal requirements.
Jewell is currently preparing documents that the HLC visiting team will read prior to their visit. Dema explained that the team will not be finding new information when they visit Jewell, rather they will confirm what they have read in the documents already given to them.
“It’s not like when they come to visit they’re discovering stuff; they’re validating stuff,” Dema said.
Dema said that Jewell has prepared for this visit by reading and rereading all the reports given to the College. She also said that Jewell knows the visiting team coming in December, but that they are not ready to make that information public.
While HLC will have areas of focus, Jewell will not know these specific areas until the visit. Dema anticipates, though she can only speculate, that the areas of focus will be finance and sustainability, board of governance and program review and assessment.
There are five criterion that Jewell needs to show it upholds – these include mission, ethical and responsible conduct, teaching and learning: quality, resources and support, teaching and learning: evaluation and improvement and resources.
The first criterion, mission, ensures that the institution’s missions is clear and articulated publicly. Dema said that this criterion was not contested during the last HLC visit.
The second criterion, ethical and responsible conduct, asks if the institution acts with integrity and whether its conduct is ethical and responsible. This issue was contested in the past by the HLC due to a trend of large withdrawals from the endowment.
Dema said that the board has passed measures to ensure the endowment problem is fixed and to show that the board is fully engaged.
The third criterion, ensuring the quality of education, makes sure the institution provides high quality education. The HLC did not contest this criterion during their past visit.
The fourth criterion, the evaluation and improvement of teaching and learning, ensures that the institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services.
Dema said that Jewell has a program review process to show that Jewell is evaluating its programs.
The final criterion is resources, planning and institutional effectiveness. Dema said this was an important criterion as the HLC questioned it last time due to Jewell’s endowment withdrawal levels.
The HLC visit will occur Dec. 3-4. While the schedule will not be known until closer to the time of the visit, Dema speculated about what the visit might include.
Dema anticipates that the visit will include things such as meetings with chief financial officer and financial team, the board of trustees and Jewell’s administration. She also thinks that open forums will be held on campus.
Though she cannot say definitely, Dema hopes that Jewell will be on the Institutional Actions Council’s docket in March. This council would then submit their decision for final review.
Dema predicted that the HLC’s final decision will be known in June of 2019.
Photo courtesy of William Jewell College.