Frequently Asked Questions
What is accreditation and why should I care about it?
Accreditation is a process involving both self-study and external team evaluation. An accreditation association "validates" or "certifies" that institutions of higher education have met expectations. If the association does so validate, the institution is then "accredited."
This validation is important because (A) parents prefer to send their children to, (B) students prefer to attend, and (C) employers prefer to hire students from schools that are accredited rather than those that are not. In addition, being accredited is a necessary condition for receiving many types of federal funding, including grants and student aid. Essentially, accreditation is a pre-condition for operation in today's educational environment.
What is the HLC?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the body that determines whether or not UND maintains its institutional accreditation. The HLC is the primary accreditor for higher educational institutions within a 19 state area.
The HLC is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.
What does the HLC do?
An institutional accrediting body evaluates an entire organization and accredits it as a whole. It assesses formal educational activities and also evaluates governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student personnel services, resources, student academic achievement, organizational effectiveness, and relationships with outside constituencies.
- HLC Handbook of Accreditation (third edition, page 1.1-1)
Why do a self-study?
UND's Provost, Paul LeBel, answers this question as follows:
"The institutional self-study is the most valuable part of the regional reaccreditation process. It provides an occasion for all of us to examine where our university is, how we got here, where we aspire to be in the next 5-10 years, and what would be required for us to reach our goals.
The HLC self-study is particularly significant coming as it does soon after the "conversations about the future of UND" that occurred in 2010. Our self-study will enable us to drill down into the strategic priorities identified during those conversations, to benchmark and assess the progress that has been made, and to develop the initiatives that are critical to the on-going commitment to being an Exceptional UND.
While the self-study is required for reaccreditation, its principal beneficiaries are members of our own community: our students and others whom we serve. I am confident that we will emerge from the self-study having clearly articulated a compelling vision, claimed our distinctive identity, and set ambitious and achievable goals in all parts of our mission of teaching and learning, research, scholarly and creative activity, and service."
How might I be involved?
All members of the university community are invited to contribute to the process by helping to locate relevant information and evidence, staying up-to-date on findings from the self-study process as work continues, and responding to drafts as they are constructed and posted.
All members of the community will be asked to contribute to the success of the HLC team visit in October 28–30 2013, participating in any way that team members request during the site visit.