West Virginia University is taking significant steps to prepare for next year’s Higher Learning Commission’s Reaffirmation of Accreditation campus visit.

In preparation for the visit, scheduled for April 7-9, 2014, WVU officials have established a website on the accreditation process to inform the University community about the process.

The site includes advice on how to be involved in the process, background on accreditation, the steps involved and the University’s progress so far.

The Higher Learning Commission oversees accreditation of degree-granting colleges and universities in West Virginia and 18 other states.

Provost Michele Wheatly said it is critical that the WVU community understand the importance of the accreditation process and be prepared to participate in next year’s site visit, which will include formal meetings, open forums and informal conversations with faculty, staff, students, administration and alumni.

“Institutional accreditation is an overarching ‘license to operate’ that universities receiving federal funds are required to have,” Wheatly said. “Program-specific accreditation is only valid if the institution is fully accredited. I have always viewed accreditation as an opportunity to pause, document the recent past and use evidence to improve all aspects of the university.

“The entire campus community should be anticipating the site visit with enthusiasm and pride,” Wheatly said.

The Higher Learning Commission breaks down the criteria for accreditation into five qualities:

• The institution’s mission.
• Ethical and responsible conduct.
• The quality of teaching and learning.
• Evaluation and improvement of educational programs and support services.
• Resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

The self-study process began in July 2011, when WVU’s Higher Learning Commission Planning Team, led by Wheatly, was established to oversee and coordinate the study. More than 50 University faculty, staff and administrators are aiding in the self-study.

The study will be available as a downloadable PDF no later than eight weeks prior to the April 2014 site visit. The report will respond to any challenges the Commission previously raised and provide evidence that WVU fulfills the criteria for accreditation, said Elizabeth Hamilton, accreditation and planning officer.

Hamilton said she hopes the website will create a keen awareness of the accreditation process and better inform the community of the importance of accreditation for higher education institutions. The University also plans to run public service announcements about the accreditation process at sporting events leading up to the site visit.

For more information on the accreditation process, go to the accreditation website.



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