LCSC gets official word on glowing accreditation report
Lewis-Clark State College officials received written notice that the college received a glowing accreditation report on its Fall 2009 Comprehensive Evaluation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, LCSC President Dene K. Thomas announced on Thursday.
The college had its accreditation reaffirmed with six commendations and only one recommendation in the area of assessment. To have only one recommendation during a 10-year accreditation review is rare, Thomas said.
"The results of our full-scale accreditation renewal are the high point of my presidency," Thomas exclaimed. "The progress made in the past 10 years is stunning, and I am exceedingly proud of the results. Thank you, LCSC faculty and staff!"
NWCCU is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed.
The Commission oversees regional accreditation for 163 institutions. Its decision-making body consists of up to 26 commissioners who represent the public and the diversity of higher education institutions within the Northwest region. The chair for LCSC's visit was Richard Cost, President of the University of Maine-Fort Kent. Cost oversaw a visiting evaluation team composed of 13 representatives of various institutions in Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Montana.
To be accredited, an institution must meet standards set by NWCCU. Accreditation is important because it is a process of quality assurance and institutional improvement. A successful accreditation qualifies an institution to access federal funds to support teaching, research, and student financial aid.
Thursday’s report culminates a campus-wide process that began in 2007. After two years of preparation, a comprehensive self-study was forwarded last spring to the commission and served as a basis for the site visit. In early October, the NWCCU-chosen accreditation team visited the LCSC campus and LCSC-Coeur d'Alene for three days and met with faculty, staff, and students to gather more information that affirmed and added to the self-study. The team then met and wrote up its findings in a report to NWCCU.
LCSC administrators received a copy of the report in December and then met with NWCCU administrators in Bellevue, Wash., in January to discuss the report and make any factual error changes for the final report, which Thomas received on Thursday.
"The faculty, staff, students and administrators who helped complete the self study and host the visiting NWCCU team should be very proud of this accreditation report," LCSC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tony Fernandez said. "The commendations are numerous and the single recommendation will serve as a very useful guide as LCSC continues to grow and improve."
In the written report, the visiting NWCCU team complimented the college for an excellent self-study and on the improvements it has made since the last 10-year visit, when LCSC had a handful of recommendations.
The report stated "The Commission commends the College for the exceptional improvement since the 1999 visit in the process of planning and budgeting that is both effective and transparent to the campus. Moreover, the Commission applauds the way faculty at the College have embraced distance learning to better serve the region through program such as the Center at Coeur d’Alene, the Pathways to Alternative Certification and Endorsements (PACE), the Management Degree Online, and the Online RN to BSN program.
"Further, the Commission finds laudable the visionary and dynamic leadership of the College which is clearly well-regarded and respected both within the institution and beyond. In addition, the Commission commends the faculty and staff for genuine caring about students and student success, and for the impressive level of collegiality among themselves as well as a deep commitment to this institution. The Commission finds noteworthy the Trustees of the State Board of Education for their strong, thoughtful, informed support of the College and its unique tripartite mission to serve the region.
"Lastly, the College clearly benefits from the quality and maintenance of the physical plan and the extremely attractive appearance of the campus and is to be congratulated on the many new and improved facilities since the last evaluation visit, including the newest addition, Sacajawea Hall."
The one recommendation was for LCSC to continue to develop learning objectives and assessment to improve teaching and learning. This includes continuing to measure student success and to continue the ongoing development of the general education curriculum.
The report said "The evaluation committee recommends that Lewis-Clark State College continue to develop measurable learning objects and appropriate assessment measurements consistently across the curriculum and use the results to improve teaching and learning at the College. At the same time, we recommend that it does so as part of the ongoing review of the General Education Curriculum."
Both Thomas and Fernandez, who led the LCSC preparation for the 10-year visit, were thrilled by the report and offer their thanks and congratulations to all who took part in the accreditation process, which includes helping with the self-study and talking with the evaluation team.