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University gets 10-year accreditation

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By The Staff

Highlands University has received official notice of continued accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission’s North Central Association of Colleges and Schools following a comprehensive evaluation in 2009-10.

The accreditation is for 10 years.

Highlands University was first accredited by the Higher Learning Commission’s North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1926, and has retained its accreditation since then. The university was last awarded accreditation in 2000.

“Being awarded accreditation assures our students that we are offering them a quality education in accordance with the Higher Learning Commission’s rigorous standards,” said Jim Fries, president of Highlands University. “At the same time, we are absolutely committed to ongoing efforts to further enhance our academic offerings.

 “The accreditation also recognizes the successful work within our university community that has gone into improving the overall stability of the university, ranging from its finances to its governance,” said Fries, who has served as president since January 2007.

“The reaccreditation process is a means by which the university is able to examine how its academic programs and services are delivered to students as compared to nationwide standards,” said Gilbert Rivera, vice president for academic affairs. “An important piece of the process is to determine if the university is positioned in a way that we can continue to provide these services academically, organizationally and fiscally. Being accredited shows that we are.”

In its 2000 accreditation report, the Higher Learning Commission identified some areas where the university needed improvement. During the 2009-10 accreditation process, the commission recognized the university’s accomplishments in making significant progress in these areas: assessment of student learning; enrollment and enrollment management; finances and financial monitoring; financial and administrative computer systems; regents-administration relationships; integrated strategic planning; governance structures; and institutional research.

“We worked hard for more than 10 years, reporting to the Higher Learning Commission the significant progress that we have made here at Highlands,” said Kathy Jenkins, department chairwoman for the Exercise and Sports Sciences Department and president of the university’s faculty association.

She also served on the university’s accreditation self-study committee.

Highlands University engaged in a two-year self-study process that addressed the Higher Learning Commission’s requirements and criteria for accreditation. The commission’s evaluation team visited the university last November to gather evidence to determine if the university’s self study was thorough and accurate.

The Higher Learning Commission is one of six accrediting agencies in the United States that provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis.