UA Little Rock’s Road to Reaccreditation: What You Need to Know About Criterion 2

UALR sign at the entrance on S. University Dr near University Plaza on January 28, 2016.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is preparing for a campus visit from the Higher Learning Commission to achieve reaccreditation for the university.

A peer review team of seven faculty and higher education professionals will visit campus all day Monday, Feb. 24, and the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 25.

During the campus visit, members of the team will ask questions of UA Little Rock faculty, staff, students, and visitors. It’s important for members of the university community to be familiar with the five criteria used to evaluate the institution.

Criterion 2, “Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct,” evaluates whether or not the university and governing board follow their own processes and procedures. Under Criterion 2, institutions must also assure peer reviewers that they present themselves clearly and completely to students and the public and that they are committed to academic freedom and the pursuit of truth.

“This criterion focuses on effective, transparent oversight and accountability, as well as responsible resource allocation and decision-making,” said Dr. Erin Finzer, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and chair of the Higher Learning Commission Steering Committee.

“This criterion focuses on whether or not the institution establishes and follows its own policies to ensure fair and ethical treatment,” Finzer said. “The criterion also focuses on consumer protection and that we present ourselves to the public with transparency and honesty. HLC also wants to make sure that we protect academic freedom on this campus. A quality institution takes stewardship seriously, operating with integrity and accountability by fostering a culture of documentation and transparency.”

The core components of Criterion 2 include:

2.A. The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.

2.B. The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships.

2.C. The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity.

2.D. The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

2.E. The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, students, and staff.

Members of the university community can prepare for questions about Criterion 2 by familiarizing themselves with where to find UA Little Rock policy documents, such as administrative pages, faculty/staff/student handbooks, governance documents, policy pages, and consumer information pages.

What are the questions you may be asked regarding Criterion 2?

Do you think the university is clear in its communication with students about topics such as financial aid, student conduct, costs, and graduation requirements? What improvements would you recommend?

What opportunities do you have for professional development?

Are staff members treated equitably in their access to these opportunities?

What opportunities do students in your program have to gain experience with research? Community or civic engagement? Diversity or multiculturalism?

Provide an example of how UA Little Rock is committed to the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

How are staff involved in campus decision-making processes? Do you think that staff have sufficient input into decisions that affect them? Talk about shared governance and how faculty participate in decision-making at different levels of the university (department, college, institution).

Do you think the university is clear in its communication with students about topics such as financial aid, student conduct, costs, and graduation requirements? What improvements would you recommend?

Members of the peer review team are looking for candid and thoughtful answers that demonstrate that the university’s employees and students understand the mission, its vision for the future, and how the institution will serve the public good.

“HLC looks for institutions who respond to what their stakeholders need most,” Finzer said. “HLC also looks for campus communities that understand and buy into their mission and for institutions that align their resources with their mission. Perhaps more than any other regional accrediting body, HLC values the public good.”

For more information, visit UA Little Rock’s reaccreditation website.

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