The team of peer-reviewers representing the Higher Learning Commission left our campus yesterday after completing a very positive visit with us on Monday and Tuesday. The team was extremely grateful for the hospitality and spirit of welcome they received from all quarters – staff, faculty, students, regents, and community members.
I wish to express my deep appreciation to the hundreds of you who put thousands of hours into preparing for this visit and meeting with the HLC peer-reviewers while they were here on campus. Most notably, we are deeply grateful to Dr. Miriam Luebke and Dr. Marilyn Reineck, who spearheaded this institution-wide effort, and Kathy Haeg, who provided invaluable administrative support. Our criterion team leaders, writers and editors also deserve special mention for their long hours in coordinating the documentation process and preparing our assurance argument.
Most of you are aware that the peer-review team is not at liberty at this time to share their findings or the recommendations they will be making in their report. They will spend the next two weeks writing their report, and then send it to us for a “fact check,” just to be sure they have not misstated any data, misspelled names, or made any other factually inaccurate statements. After that step, the team will finalize its report and submit it again to us for response. Our accreditation leadership team will review the report and formulate our university response, which may simply be that we concur with the report or may react to parts of it. Once we have made our response, the peer-review team will pass the report on to the Higher Learning Commission, who will act to formally approve the report and reaffirm our institutional accreditation. That final action will occur, likely, sometime this fall.
Though the peer-reviewers did not share findings or recommendations, they did offer some very positive observations. First, the team noted that the sense of community at our university is extremely evident, to a degree not often found at other institutions of higher education. Individuals at CSP feel they are part of something important, believe their work matters, and take ownership in shaping the institution’s destiny. Moreover, the reviewers had a general sense that student success is the overriding motivation for faculty, staff and regents, and specifically complimented the faculty’s academic program review process and attention to student learning outcomes.
The reviewers were amazed at the clarity and efficacy of our strategic plan, and at the broad understanding of the direction of the university by faculty, staff, and regents. Likewise, they found broad understanding of the university’s mission and promise statements. This unified sense of mission and vision is also not often found in other organizations.
I am not surprised that the peer-review team had such a positive experience on our campus. Conversely, we have benefitted from being able to look at our university through their eyes, and eagerly await their report.
Grace and peace!