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Notre Dame passes reaccreditation review

| Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) gave Notre Dame the highest marks in all criteria in its decennial reaccreditation review, according to Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University.

“The report praised the academic distinction of many departments and observed that faculty showed an ‘unusual’ commitment to their undergraduates,” Jenkins said in a faculty address. “‘In short,’ they wrote, ‘Notre Dame [provides a high-quality education across the broad] in a way that is truly exemplary.’ … I thank every faculty member for making the University a place that merits such high praise.”

Dan Hubert, accreditation program director, said the University must complete this process every 10 years in order to remain accredited.

“Without being an accredited institution, [Notre Dame] does not qualify for federal financial aid, we don’t qualify for federal research dollars,” Hubert said. “Your credits, if you transfer somewhere else, may not transfer and as well as accepting credits from another institution coming in, they have to be accredited. There’s a lot that plays into being an accredited institution.”

The reaccreditation process consists of a self-study based on HLC criteria and a follow-up visit during which an evaluation team verifies and further explores the report, Hubert said.

“It was about a two year process for us to thoroughly look at the University,” Hubert said. “… We worked with about 120 faculty to gather the information to address these five criteria that the Higher Learning Commission has for us. We then had to write that up into a report for submission: it was a 245-page report, with links to almost 1,000 other documents.”

The five overarching criteria components that a university must meet are mission; ethical and responsible conduct; teaching and learning: quality, resources and support; evaluation and improvement; and planning and institutional effectiveness, according to the HLC website. Hubert said each criteria component had a team assigned to it.

“When we design the self-study team we chose faculty leaders to head up each of the five criteria areas,” Hubert said. “They shepherded the process and were well-respected faculty that had also held previous leadership roles on campus … It is one of the thankless things that the faculty and staff do on campus.”

Hubert said the Higher Learning Commission is in the process of adopting a different reaccreditation schedule.

“Instead of going for a full 10 years and having to do a whole report every 10 years, we are on a new system called Pathways, which in four years, we will provide an update to [the HLC],” Hubert said. “Then, three years after that, we will provide another update, and then at the 10-year mark, we will provide another update but it will only be for a three-year period. We will be continually updating our report along the way.”

Hubert said the report was an overall success.

“We hit everything because across the board, they gave us the highest marks that you could receive, so we really give kudos to the faculty and staff that worked on it to make sure we had everything covered,” Hubert said.

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

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