Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update on Accreditation

UMKC is in the midst of a vigorous self-study, an activity that all accredited institutions of higher education must undertake every ten years. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the self-study. It is required for us to maintain our regional accreditation from the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Why is regional accreditation so important? Are there not specialized accrediting bodies for various disciplines, especially the professional schools? There are, but for any of our units—Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Education, Business, Pharmacy, the Conservatory, or any other—to retain accreditation in their disciplines, UMKC has to be regionally accredited. Moreover, institutional accreditation facilitates transfer of credit, ensures our eligibility for numerous government grants, and is important for our graduates.

Regional accreditation requires the active participation of the entire UMKC community, including all constituents. HLC has specified five criteria that will be key to its current evaluations of universities. We have formed a Criterion Committee for each of these criteria:

1. Mission and Integrity
Co-chairs: Tom Poe, Professor of Communication Studies, and Paul Shang, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

2. Preparing for the Future
Co-chairs: Barbara Glesner-Fines, Professor of Law and Larry Bunce, Director of Institutional Research

3. Student Learning and Effective Teaching
Co-Chairs: Marcus Iszard, Associate Professor and Director of Assessment, School of Pharmacy, and Ron MacQuarrie, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

4. Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge
Co-Chairs: Peter Eaton, Associate Professor of Economics, and William Truog, Professor of Pediatrics

5. Engagement and Service
Co-chairs: Leo Morton, Interim Chancellor, and Margaret Brommelsiek, Interim Chief of Staff to the Chancellor

A Steering Committee, broadly representative of the campus, coordinates the activities of the criterion committees, each of which is also broadly representative. The criterion committees will draft segments of the self-study which the Steering Committee will edit and place into the completed self-study.

The HLC site visit will take place on the 12th to the 14th of October, 2009. The team will be put together specifically for UMKC. We anticipate that it will include members familiar with public, urban, universities as well as with professional schools and the various disciplines that are core to UMKC's campus mission.

It is important for all members of the campus community to be familiar with UMKC's mission, and to be able to discuss the manner in which their activities advance it. Our specific mission, adopted by the Board of Curators, is to lead in the life and health sciences; to deepen and expand strength in the visual and performing arts; to develop a professional workforce and collaborate in urban issues and education; and to create a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

Additionally, our campus has specific goals consistent with its mission: to strengthen resource base and financial capacity; to strengthen the core academic mission; to increase student success; and to improve the racial climate while increasing campus diversity.

We cannot be certain of the details by which the HLC team will conduct its evaluation. There have been instances at other institutions, however, when a team member would ask a student, a faculty member, or a member of the staff about the manner in which the institution pursues its mission. We all should be familiar with the institutional mission in any case, but now it is even more important than ever.

It is vital for us not only to achieve re-accreditation, but to continue to be accredited at the highest level. Please check our website periodically to keep familiar with our progress. You will find it at http://www.umkc.edu/accreditation.

-Written by Max J. Skidmore, Chair HLC Steering Committee
Curators' Professor of Political Science
Thomas Jefferson Fellow

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