The accreditation process is very important for a number of reasons; however, the most important aspect of the process is the external nature of the review which offers both affirmation and objective guidance, both of which are very important to any institution which values quality, excellence, and progress.
UALR has hosted four department-based accreditation site visits this fall: Nursing and Construction Management in September, and Audiology and Speech Pathology and Systems Engineering earlier in November. All four of these site visits have gone well, and the initial feedback from the visiting teams provided both affirmation and guidance for the programsâ€™ future development.
UALR has hosted two site visits in the last 20 days of a comprehensive nature:
- The NCATE site visit occurred Sunday â€“ Wednesday, November 15-18. NCATE focuses on the professional education endeavor which encompasses not only the work of the College of Education, but also programs, faculty, and students in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Mathematics. The centerpiece of the exit interview was a superb report detailing that all standards had been met, that UALR had met target goals (the highest possible rating) in a number of areas, and that the professional education program demonstrated seven areas of particular strength. This represents a record of which we can be proud and one which will provide an excellent point of departure for further growth, development, and pursuit of excellence in the professional education arena.
- A site team representing the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association visited UALR Sunday â€“ Wednesday, November 1-4. This accreditation process encompasses the entire university. As a result of the site visit, the site team is recommending a full ten-year reaffirmation of UALRâ€™s accreditation with no stipulations. The teamâ€™s report notes the following areas of strength, areas of concern, and advice:
- Identified Strengths.
- Faculty and staff commitment to educating students.
- The design and delivery of distance education.
- The support for teaching as exemplified by the Academy of Teaching and Learning Excellence.
- The strategic plan and the facultyâ€™s endorsement of the direction UALR is going.
- Processes for curricular planning and review.
- Thoughtful engagement of the community through initiatives such as the University District and the Shepherd Project.
- Expanding on-campus housing.
- The Academic Success Center.
- University-wide commitment to assessment.
- The Donaghey Scholars Program and other honors programs.
- The use of university resources to enhance regional economic development.
- Focus on meeting the needs of transfer students.
- Identified Concerns.
- The need to move from a multifaceted mission to a more focused one.
- The fact that a large number of faculty and administrators will be retiring in the next 10 years.
- The need for more communication among units and fewer silos.
- The demographic disconnect between students and faculty/staff.
- Pay attention to the interconnectedness of mission, admission, student success, and retention.
- Identified Strengths.
These results this fall have been extremely rewarding, and I thank two groups of people:
- The people who coordinated and participated in the self-study processes: a great deal of work goes into the process of self-examination. The process takes much time, thought, and energy, and itâ€™s important that we acknowledge our colleagues who shepherded these processes along. Job well done.
- The people who do the work of these programs â€“ the faculty, staff, and administrators who teach, conduct research, participate in creative activities, serve in a variety of capacities, and lead. Successful reaccreditation experiences are validations of their/our work.