Chapter 4: Accreditation History, The Self-Study Process, and Request for Continued Accreditation

This chapter provides a brief summary of the college’s accreditation history, the self-study process, and the request for continued accreditation.

I.  Accreditation History

  • Chadron State College (CSC) has been accredited since 1915 by the North Central Association (NCA).
  • The graduate program was inaugurated in 1955 and received preliminary accreditation in 1962.  This preliminary accreditation of the master’s degree program was extended in 1965 to include programs in administration, guidance, and supervision.  In 1973, NCA extended accreditation at the undergraduate and master’s levels and granted preliminary accreditation for the Specialist’s degree in Education Management with the provision that annual reports be made.
  • In 1977, the Association granted accreditation for all programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist’s levels for a period of ten years.  In 1986, accreditation was extended for an additional ten years.  After a team visit in 1996, Chadron State College was granted accreditation for all programs for another ten years and the next comprehensive evaluation was scheduled for the 2006-07 academic year.
  • In 2002, the college applied for and was granted a modification to its Statement of Affiliation Status (SAS) to extend offerings in its service area in Nebraska for all programs, to offer specific programs in Wyoming, and to deliver several programs in online format. (RR36)  Specifically the SAS was expanded to include:  (1) no prior Commission approval to offer baccalaureate and master degree programs throughout the College’s designated service area in Western Nebraska; (2) program offerings throughout Wyoming for Baccalaureate completion programs are limited to Mathematics, Justice Studies, and Applied Sciences, and master’s degrees in Business Administration and in Education Administration; (3) online delivery of the Baccalaureate program in Mathematics and the master’s degree in Business Administration.
  • In 2006, the college participated in a “Special SAS Reconciliation Project” (RR48 ) for distance learning degree programs.  At that time, the college requested the addition of five undergraduate and five graduate programs to its online delivery program.  This request was granted and the college now offers six undergraduate and six graduate degrees in the distance learning format which includes both online and correspondence courses.
  • Currently, CSC offers the following programs in completely distance learning formats including fully online as well as the use of correspondence courses.

                        Bachelor of Arts – Majors

                        Business Administration

                                    Information Resource Management

                                    Psychology

                        Bachelor of Science – Majors

                                    Mathematics

                        Bachelor of Science in Education – Endorsements

                                    Library Media Specialist          

                                    Special Education

                        Master of Arts in Education

                                    Mathematics

                        Master of Business Administration

                        Master of Education

                                    Elementary Education Administration

                                    Secondary Education Administration

                                    Curriculum & Instruction – Education Technology

                                    Mathematics

                        Master of Science

Organizational Management, a NSCS shared online degree approved for fall 2006  - **CSC is seeking the addition of this master’s degree to its SAS at the time of its April 2007 HLC site visit.

 

II. The Self-Study Process

The Self-Study Structure and Timeline:

  • In the spring of 2004, President Thomas Krepel appointed a self-study steering committee, which was chaired by Dr. Samuel Rankin and Dr. William Roweton.  Both Dr. Rankin and Dr. Roweton are HLC consultant-evaluators and have distinguished histories in this regard.  Dr. Rankin is President Emeritus of CSC and a Board of Trustees Professor of History.  Dr. William Roweton, at that time, was Assistant to the President & Director of Institutional Research.  The committee included senior and mid-level administrators who were members of either the President’s or Senior Vice President’s councils, as well as faculty from each of the college’s two academic schools. 
  • Dr. Rankin and Dr. Roweton chaired a number of meetings in the spring of 2004 in order to inform the committee of the new criteria for accreditation, the important themes that had been identified by the commission, and the nature of student-centered learning and assessment.  The committee was divided into five teams each of which did significant research on an assigned criterion for accreditation during the 2004-05 academic year.
  • Dr. Rankin and Dr. Roweton also presented information about the upcoming HLC re-accreditation visit and the self-study at all-campus, academic school, and departmental meetings during this time.  They also edited several drafts of the criteria from the committees and worked to develop an assessment webpage, along with the organization of documents for the evidence room.  They presented President Krepel with the results of this effort in June 2005.  At that time, Dr. Rankin submitted his resignation as chair of the self-study committee to Dr. Krepel, who was resigning his position as president of the college effective July 1, 2005.  Dr. Rankin’s full-time duties as Professor of History, with only limited reassigned time for the re-accreditation efforts, made it impossible for him to continue in this position along with his extensive scholarship and service activities.
  • In mid-August 2005, Dr. Janie Park assumed the duties of president of Chadron State College.  In September she assigned the new interim Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, Dr. Lois Veath, as director of accreditation and assessment efforts for the college.  Dr. Roweton continued to work with Dr. Veath on the re-accreditation efforts, including chairing of the assessment committee, until he was reassigned to a new position in the summer of 2006.  Dr. Roweton continues to be a resource for the re-accreditation effort, although his new position as Director of Sponsored Research & Funded Initiatives for Minority Student Achievement and Retention requires significant time away from campus.
  • In the fall of 2005, President Park restructured the self-study steering committee.  The committee currently consists of the following internal and external constituents:  two undergraduate and two graduate students; nine faculty; five professional and support staff from academic affairs; six professional and support staff from administrative affairs; five professional and support staff from student affairs; one representative from the Chadron State Foundation; and five external constituents who represent alumni, employers, and the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State College System.  Many of the members of this committee also served on the previous self-study steering committee. (RR71) At its first meeting in the fall of 2005, the self-study steering committee was presented with a binder of materials including HLC information about the new criteria and the self-study process, the goals for the self-study, the role of the steering committee, a tentative timeline of activities, and assignments for the committee. (RR72) The members of the committee were divided into three groups:  academic affairs, administrative affairs, and student affairs and were assigned to meet with and gather information from the units in the particular group to which they were assigned.  Each group had representatives who were students, faculty, professional and support staff, and external constituents.
  • At the all-campus meeting in January 2006, Dr. Park and Dr. Veath briefed the campus on the self-study and HLC reaccreditation, the new self-study committee, the process for gathering evidence and information during the spring, and the expectations of the HLC with regard to the self-study process.    
  • From January through June 2006, the self-study steering committee gathered information on all five of the criteria from the campus departments and units in each of the three areas.  At regular meetings the committee reported back on the evidence and conclusions that had been gathered for the criteria.  In June 2006, the committee submitted reports on academic, administrative, and student affairs for all five criteria.  These reports provided important grassroots input about the five criteria, and information for the self-study report. (RR73) , (RR74), (RR75)
  • In August 2006, Dr. Park convened an administrative retreat of the members of the President’s Council, which included several new academic deans and vice presidents, as a result of the restructuring that occurred effective July 1, 2006.  Members of Dr. Park’s Council are a subset of the self-study steering committee.  The group reviewed a detailed outline for the self-study report based on the work of the previous self-study committee and its 2005 draft, plus the additional information gathered by the new self-study committee in the spring of 2006.  A writing team was formed, consisting of: Dr. Lois Veath, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Charles Snare, the new Dean of Arts & Sciences; Ms. Terie Dawson, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and the new Director of Institutional Research; Dr. Thomas Swanke, Associate Professor of Economics; Ms. Kristal Kuhnel, Assistant to the Dean of Arts & Sciences; and Ms. Toni Mathewson, a Graduate Assistant who had been assigned to accreditation since 2005. 
  • During the fall semester 2006, the writing team met regularly to review information that was needed for the report and to continue organizing an extensive list of documents for the resource room.  Dr. Veath and Dr. Swanke were designated to write the self-study, with the assistance of the other team members.
  • In January 2007, drafts of the self-study report were circulated to the President’s Council for editing and corrections.  In early February, the self-study was circulated to additional individuals for editing and an executive summary (RR76)of the findings of the self-study was presented at an all campus meeting on February 8, 2007.  The executive summary of the self-study provides information about the Higher Learning Commission, the re-accreditation process, the strengths and areas of improvement identified in the self-study, and plans thus far developed for improvement.  The executive summary is designed to provide a starting point for additional input from internal and external constituents with regard to how the college should proceed in its quest for continuous improvement in fulfilling its mission.  It is designed to be distributed to a diverse audience of individuals on campus and throughout the college’s service region. 
  • In mid-February, the final self-study, along with accompanying materials, was mailed to the HLC site visit team and to the HLC liaison officer for CSC.  The mailing included: hardcopies of the self-study; the executive summary; audits for the past two years; the new college catalog; faculty, student, and staff handbooks; flash drives containing electronic versions of all of these documents; and primary documents referenced within the self-study report.
  • In February, March, April, and May, the self-study steering committee is meeting to analyze the findings of the self-study, and to prioritize activities for the plan of improvement for the college.  Because the college undergoes a two-year cycle for budgeting and planning, the input from the committee is occurring at an important point in the cycle, as planning and budgeting is currently underway for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years.  The steering committee is also involved in plans to disseminate the executive summary of the self-study to internal and external constituents.  Members of the committee will be meeting with campus and community focus groups including the Student Senate, Faculty Senate, unions, Campus Activities Board, academic schools and departments, support units in administrative and student affairs, and community members.  These focus group meetings are held in addition to the monthly all-campus meetings scheduled in February, March, and April of 2007. 
  • In March and April, as well as into the future, Dr. Park will distribute the executive summary of the self-study throughout the college’s service region as she conducts community meetings.  Members of the steering committee will also distribute the executive summary whenever they attend appropriate public meetings.  In addition, the college’s website includes the executive summary, additional information about the Higher Learning Commission, the site visit, the re-accreditation process, and information about how to provide third-party comments directly to the Commission.  Newspaper ads placed throughout the college’s service region in March will inform external constituents about the college’s re-accreditation visit in April and will solicit third-party comments directly to the Commission.        

 

The Charge to the Self-Study Steering Committee:

The purpose of this committee is:

To engage the college community and its constituencies in an open self-study process that accomplishes the following:

§         Assess objectively Chadron State College’s strengths and opportunities for improvement

§         Provide a basis for deciding how best to focus the college’s energy and resources in the future

The goals of the self-study are as follows:

§         Highlight the strengths of Chadron State College and the institutional changes and improvements that have taken place since the last self-study

§         Identify current challenges and develop strategies for improvement

§         Inform the ongoing process of strategic planning and institutional initiatives with the self-study

§         Strengthen communication between the campus community and Chadron State College’s local and regional constituencies

§         Achieve continued accreditation from the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission

The role of the Steering Committee is to:

§         Work with individual campus units or departments to collect evidence and data for the self-study criteria

§         Analyze the evidence and develop improvements with regard to the criteria

§         Review the findings and interpret the self-study results at the institution-wide level

§         Develop a prioritized future plan of action based on the findings of the self-study process

§         Communicate the results of the self-study to the campus community, local and regional constituents, and the Board of Trustees

 

III. Request for Continued Accreditation

  • Chadron State College respectfully requests continued accreditation for the next ten years by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.  The college has extensively engaged its constituents in a reflective self-study process over the past two and one-half years.  It has honestly identified areas of strength, areas for improvement, and begun significant planning for improvement.  Through this process, the college demonstrates that it fulfills each of the criteria for accreditation by meeting the core components.  Although it has made significant progress in the assessment of student learning, Chadron State College is proactive in recognizing its need to continue this improvement. The college’s acceptance into the pioneer cohort of the HLC Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning in the fall 2006 commits CSC to participate in a continuous plan of improvement.  President Park’s newly established cycle of institutional planning and effectiveness provides a way to incorporate assessment analysis and reports into the college’s strategic planning and budgeting process.  This process described throughout the self-study reported, will allow Chadron State College to evaluate its program on a yearly basis.
  • Chadron State College also respectfully requests a change in its Statement of Affiliation Status to include the offering of an additional online program, the Master of Science in Organizational Management.  As described in the report in Chapter One, in the spring 2006 the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education approved an online degree, the Master of Science in Organizational Management, as a shared, cooperative degree among the three state colleges – Chadron, Peru, and Wayne.  At the time of its April 2007 HLC site visit, CSC is seeking an expansion of its SAS to include this new online degree.  In addition, the college respectfully requests permission to offer additional distance-learning programs hereafter without prior Commission approval, based on this self-study as well as the detailed information provided to the Commission in the college’s self-study for distance learning in the SAS Reconciliation Project in 2006. (RR48)