Kelly Funk, director of student outcomes at Michigan State University, talks during the reaccreditation discussion. Photo by Chester Belowsi/The Dakota Student.
UND had to pass its biggest test of the decade this week — reaccreditation.
Accreditation verifies the quality of a college or university by conducting peer reviews on everything within the institution. UND has been reviewed once every 10 years, since 1913 by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students who graduate from accredited institutions are viewed as better-prepared by employers, according to the university’s website. Institutional accreditation is also required for individual academic programs to receive accreditation and it means more federal financial aid will be available to students.
“Reaccreditation is very important,” UND law student Robert Vallie said. “Without it, my diploma would be worth nothing. Losing accreditation would be a massive slap in the face to those who have invested so much into the university.”
Members of the HLC visited UND’s campus from Monday to Wednesday this week to review UND’s academic policies and talk to members of the community such as students, faculty, staff and other Grand Forks community members.
“I met with them and learned about where the university can improve,” UND economics professor Patrick O’Neill said.
One of these planned improvements is the One Stop Shop that will open next year in the Memorial Union. This will allow students to meet with representatives from offices such as Financial Aid, the Registrar and Parking Services all at once, so they don’t have to shuffle through Twamley Hall to meet with all of them.
Open forums for each group of people took place in meeting rooms in the Memorial Union on Monday and Tuesday. The purpose of the forums were for people to talk openly about their experiences at UND.
“Over 70 people attended the staff forum,” UND spokesperson Peter Johnson said. “There were people in every type of uniform.”
The visiting HLC members then submitted a report of their findings but it could take “six to 10 months” before UND will hear the results, according to HLC member and University of Toledo Education Professor Dave Meabon.
UND has spent three years preparing for this week.
A team of approximately 150 students, faculty and staff from throughout campus has created a 306-page self-study report describing every activity done within the university. This report can be accessed by anyone on the university’s website.
“(HLC was) very impressed at how thorough the report is,” said Johnson.
The report was divided into five criteria: mission; ethical and responsible conduct; teaching and learning; teaching and learning; and resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.
Each of the listed criteria had a working committee with specific duties that made sure the criteria was met.
Their duties include evaluating the progress toward institutional goals made with the Exceptional UND initiatives, identifying potential to steps that UND can take during the next five to 10 years to keep advancing the initiative and determining how closely UND already meets the HLC criteria.
Many faculty members such as Johnson and O’Neill predict UND will have no problem earning reaccreditation. If they do, the university will have been accredited for 100 years.
Jaye Millspaugh is the multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]