What is HLC?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes the 19 states including Indiana.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is formal recognition of the quality of an educational institution. Accreditation is granted by HLC as a result of a systematic evaluation of the institution as a whole. Their evaluation will include a review of educational activities, governance, administration, financial stability, admissions, student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies.
Why Is Institutional Accreditation Important?
Institutional accreditation provides recognition that an institution meets certain quality standards. Accreditation means that credits and degrees earned will be respected by employers and other educational institutions. Accreditation facilitates transferability of coursework and it provides access to student financial aid and certain federal funding opportunities.
The accreditation process consists of two primary components:
- Assurance Argument
A 35,000 word self-evaluation which “assures: the HLC that Purdue Northwest’s is meeting all of the criteria for accreditation.
- Quality Initiative
A special initiative through which PNW demonstrates its ongoing commitment to improving its quality. Common areas of focus include student success, assessment of student learning, organizational planning, program review and developing a culture of improvement. The institution prepares a report outlining the outcomes of the project which is submitted to the HLC.
- A campus visit by an HLC peer-review team, next scheduled for 2030-31. The team visits the campuses and conduct both planned and ad hoc interviews with a wide range of stakeholder groups, including the Chancellor and SLT, Faculty Senate leadership, deans and department chairs, faculty, staff and students. The HLC team members determine with whom they will meet.
Purdue will be evaluated according to the following five criteria, which will be the primary focus of both the Assurance Argument and the on-campus visit:
- Mission – What are we working toward? Is our mission clear, and does it guide our operations?
- Integrity – Are we transparent? Do we act ethically and responsibly?
- Teaching and Learning – Do we provide a high-quality education and the resources and support to back our students’ success?
- Assessment – How do we evaluate our performance and student learning outcomes? Do we actively strive to improve?
- Planning – What is our plan for the future? Are we adequately prepared to accomplish our mission?