The Higher Learning Commission visits campus this week for a crucial assessment which will determine Malone’s accreditation status going into the future. Peer reviewers from other institutions arrived September 24 and are staying until the 26th.
According to Provost Dr. Tucker, the purpose of this visit is to follow up with a self-assessment prepared by the Malone community for the past two years.
“It’s fundamentally an analysis of the strengths and challenges of [Malone’s] institution,” Tucker said.
The self-assessment and HLC visit provides the opportunity for campus to “look at itself critically and honestly, to applaud good things about the school, and refresh and renew things that need to be worked on,” he added.
The self-study assessed the institution as a whole and will be presented to the HLC as part of the accreditation process to verify that what has been documented is accurate.
In previous visits, the HLC made recommendations to improve upon how Malone assessed student learning, specifically in the general education courses, according to Tucker.
Tucker said a lot of time was spent upgrading how Malone measures student learning, and he now considers assessment a strength of the self-study.
According the self-study assessment, there are six major challenges going into the future: strategic planning, diversity among faculty, financial strength, updated policies and handbooks and evaluation of adjunct faculty and administration.
Of those six, Tucker identifies strategic planning as the focus.
“Our major challenge we’re working on is really to be more intentional about our strategic planning,” said Tucker. “When we identify challenges…we have a plan for responding and…build into the budget solid ways to improve and strengthen that area.”
Initiatives have already been implemented to address these six challenges, Tucker said.
Tucker is optimistic about the HLC visit and assessment. He said he is confident that the visitors will reaffirm the strengths and challenges identified in the self-study and expects no surprises or difficulty.
Director of Assessment Charles Larty also shares this optimism.
“[Malone’s] committee has come together very well,” he said. “I’m very proud of the teamwork we’ve done.”
Larty also stressed the importance of this visit, saying students stand to benefit from this accreditation as it will ensure sufficient financial aid, credit transfers to and from other schools, as well as an esteemed standard for Malone as an institution.
The committee will spend two days on campus evaluating the institution as a whole and will interview over 60 people involved on campus, including select students, according to Larty. On the third day, an exit interview will be held to report a summary of the findings.
After the visit, Larty said the assessment will continue and initiatives will be implemented to address challenges.
He also said that necessary step-by-step processes will be put in place that will help realize or achieve [Malone’s] institutional mission.
The full self-study report is available on Malone’s website and identifies strengths and challenges in specific and broad criteria. The comprehensive evaluation and recommendations will not be revealed until February after the peer reviewers report their findings to the HLC committee.
Steena Hymes is the managing/news editor for The Aviso AVW