Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The University of Missouri-St. Louis’ accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission following the HLC’s accreditation visit last November.
UMSL was officially notified of its reaccreditation Jan. 18. The Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission made the recommendation Jan. 14, informing UMSL of their decision four days later.
The last time UMSL was reaccredited (which was in 2009), the HLC did not make their decision until April, making this year’s accreditation process about three months quicker.
“I don’t think anyone in this office or any other office was expecting that we would know [of the reaccreditation) within the first three weeks of January,” professor of Communication and Media and Accreditation liaison officer Alan Heisel said.
Heisel believes the process was quicker this time for two reasons, the first being how well-prepared UMSL was for the accreditation visit last November.
“The report of the site team was so positive and the assurance argument was so complete that there weren’t really any concerns at all,” Heisel said. “I’m a peer reviewer and I’ve been a peer reviewer for almost a decade, so I go to other institutions to do this and I’ve never seen a team report as clean as the one we got.”
Another reason Heisel believes the process was quicker this time around is due to the HLC’s changes to the submission system. In the past, hard copies of documents were required from institutions, making the flow of information slow at times. However, in the last few years the HLC has started requiring institutions to use a digital submission system.
“It makes logistics of getting information around quicker and easier,” Heisel said.
The HLC will also be making another visit to UMSL in the following years as accredited institutions host a mid-cycle review where HLC members evaluate the campus through video around four years after the initial in-person visit. This is when the HLC members ensure the university is ensuring the goals that were set in their Strategic Plans are being met.
These follow-up reviews were previously only meant for institutions who were not in the open pathway program (an accelerated program for institutions who have a good standing with the HLC), a program that UMSL is able to take part in. However, the HLC has begun implementing these mid-cycle visits for all institutions to promote continuous progress.
One of the elements that UMSL has been working on is their curricular alignment program, a project the university included in its Strategic plan and has been working on prior to the Assurance of Learning Document.
“[The curricular alignment] will be something we continue to do moving forward,” Heisel said.
The curricular alignment program is not the only thing that will result from the accreditation process, as the university’s Strategic Plan documents outlined initiatives UMSL will be working on moving forward.
“As an institution, we should be proud of all of our efforts because that is what assured our accreditation,” Heisel said.