As some might say, it’s the final countdown for East Central College with the Higher Learning Commission scheduled to conduct an on-site visit in two weeks.
All of the work that has gone into preparing for the official visit will soon come to a head. The visit will determine the college’s accreditation status after a 2017 visit left it “on notice” for concerns on meeting criterion 4 and 5.
President Jon Bauer said the HLC team will visit the college Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 18-19.
“It’s a full day on Monday, including meetings with strategic planning, budget committee, faculty forum in the afternoon, meeting with campus administrative leadership and with the board as well,” he said.
Bauer noted there are also a couple of unscheduled time slots on the agenda for Tuesday.
“So if they want to follow up on anything or add anything to the schedule then they’ll use those slots Tuesday,” he said.
The team will visit for only half of the day Tuesday. The visit will conclude with a 15-minute review session.
The review session will include members of the administration leadership team, Robyn Walter, vice president of academic affairs, and the HLC team.
“We’re confident with the team coming here,” said Bauer. “We’re eager for them to get here.”
The visit is part of the requirements of the comprehensive evaluations that are conducted to ensure the institution meets the criteria for accreditation, is striving to improve the institution and is compliant with U.S. Department of Education requirements.
In August, the college hosted a mock visit in preparation. It was not held in conjunction with the HLC. The two college professionals who visited met with several committees that have worked on projects that are considered “on notice” and related to criterion 4 and 5.
A faculty and staff open forum also was held during the mock visit.
A team of peer reviewers will evaluate the assurance filing and, in addition to the official visit, will make a recommendation as to whether the college meets the criteria.
Then a decision-making body will review the documentation submitted along with the recommendation. An official action will follow.
The last time a HLC team visited, it made a recommendation for ECC’s accreditation to be placed on probation.
A hearing followed in April 2018 that left the college with a lesser status of “on notice.”
Even before the hearing, college officials began planning goals to focus on over a year with an interim strategic plan. The plan was approved by the board of trustees in March 2018.
During the two-year process of being “on notice,” the college remains fully accredited, college credits transfer, financial aid will be dispersed and the high quality of academic programs remain.
The status became official in June 2018. The HLC concluded ECC meets the criteria for accreditation, but with concerns on core components 4.B, 4.C, 5.B, 5.C and 5.D.
The college partnered with CampusWorks, Bradenton, Fla., to develop a strategic plan that went into effect in August.