MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

September 12, 2015 

Accreditation visits will take place this year


Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. The board aids in the evaluation of each potential new school accreditation or the renewals of previously accredited colleges/schools.

During the 2015-16 academic year, Mayville State will have visits from two accrediting bodies, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) on Nov. 16-18, 2015, and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) on April 25-26, 2016. Both are very important accreditation processes for MSU.

The CCNE is specialized accreditation for MSU’s new nursing program (RN to BSN). MSU nursing faculty Tami Such, Kari Matthys, and Collette Christoffers have been working with a nursing consultant to write the accreditation report.

Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is an autonomous accrediting agency, contributing to the improvement of the public's health. CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. CCNE serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices. As a voluntary, self-regulatory process, CCNE accreditation supports and encourages continuing self-assessment by nursing programs and supports continuing growth and improvement of collegiate professional education and post-baccalaureate nurse residency programs.

The HLC re-accreditation process for the entire campus and academic programs occurs every ten years. Faculty and staff have been preparing for the HLC regional accreditation, along with a quality initiative (QI), as part of the re-accreditation process. Institutions are required by the HLC to undertake a major quality initiative designed to suit their particular campus’s present concerns or aspirations. It is intended to allow a campus to take risks, aim high, and learn.

MSU’s quality initiative, led by Dr. Mark Skean, is “improvement through assessment.” Dr. Skean completed the final findings and report and the QI was submitted to the HLC in August of 2015. The core MSU HLC re-Accreditation team members are Dr. Keith Stenehjem, Dr. Mark Skean, Dr. Sarah Anderson, Dr. Tom Gonnella, Dr. Carolyn Baker, Kelly Kornkven, Chris Gonnella, Rob Johnston, Gene Levitt, Allison Johnson, Dr. John Pederson, Dr. Andi Dulski-Bucholz, and Dr. Robert Miess.

The HLC’s criteria for accreditation reflect a set of guiding values. The Commission expects that institutions have the standards, the processes, and the will for quality assurance in depth and throughout their educational offerings.

The HLC’s guiding values for accreditation are: focus on student learning; education as a public purpose; education for a diverse, technological, globally connected world; a culture of continuous improvement; evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation; integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior or practice; governance for the well-being of the institution; planning and management of resources to ensure institutional stainability; mission-centered evaluation; and accreditation through peer review.

Because it is so important to the success of the university and our graduates, the Mayville State faculty and staff invest much time and effort into the accreditation process. We know that colleges that have been through the accreditation process are more likely to offer degrees that employers recognize. Companies thinking about employing our graduates want to know that they are hiring individuals who have the background of a high quality education. The accreditation process also offers students a better chance of having their credits transferred to other reputable institutions should they decide to obtain a graduate or doctoral level education. The accreditation process gives us an opportunity to review what we’re doing and to make improvements as needed. We look forward to having our efforts endorsed by the accrediting agencies.