Vision and Mission
  • Chadron State College aspires to be a premier institution of higher education in the western High Plains states, innovatively pursuing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.
  • Chadron State College will enrich the quality of life in the region by providing educational opportunities, research, service, and programs that contribute significantly to the vitality and diversity of the region.

Accreditation and Self-Study Frequently Asked Questions

What is accreditation?
Accreditation is the result of positive external review by an authorized agency such as The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an arm of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation assures the public that a college or university is prepared to do its job. While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study, such as teacher education, HLC and other regional accrediting agencies are responsible for insuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards in terms of their missions and operations.  HLC and other accrediting agencies have been designated as the “gatekeepers” for Federal funds in higher education.  Unaccredited schools are not eligible for many kinds of Federal support.  To learn more about accreditation, visit the HLC website at www.higherlearningcommission.org.

How does the Chadron State College accreditation process work?
Chadron State College will be reviewed as part of the “Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality” (PEAQ), which employs a four-step comprehensive evaluation process to determine continued accredited status.

  1. The college has engaged in a self-study process for approximately two years and has prepared a report of its findings in accordance with the HLC Criteria for Accreditation.
  2. HLC sends an evaluation team of Consultant-Evaluators, faculty and administrators at other colleges and universities, to conduct a comprehensive campus visit and to write a report containing the team’s findings and recommendations.
  3. The report of the evaluation team is reviewed by a panel that makes recommendations to the Institutional Actions Council.
  4. The Council takes actions that are then validated by the Board of Trustees for HLC.

What does the HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
In 2004-05 HLC adopted new Criteria for Accreditation.  HLC expects that CSC has evaluated examples of evidence to support each criterion.  The evaluation team also expects to see evidence that the organization is future-oriented, learning-focused, connected, and distinctive.  The new criteria are:

  1. Mission and Integrity
    The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.
  2. Preparing for the Future
    The organization’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.
  3. Student Learning and Effective Teaching
    The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.
  4. Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge
    The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.
  5. Engagement and Service
    As called for by its mission, the organization identifies and services its constituencies.
How is the college preparing for the re-accreditation visit?

A Self-Study Steering Committee was appointed by President Janie Park to collect and evaluate evidence, make sense of that evidence in light of each criterion for accreditation, and help prepare the college for the 2007 visit.  During the past two years, all of the units on campus have provided information to this committee.  The members assembled this information with regard to Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Administrative Affairs, and examined each of these areas for the five criteria for accreditation.  Their reports were completed in June, 2006, and a writing team has utilized their reports and the information provided by the campus to complete the Self-Study Report.  The college is now distributing the information it has learned from the self-study process which included students, faculty, and staff of the college, as well as its constituents.

When will the HLC re-accreditation visit take place?
An evaluation team from the HLC is scheduled to visit CSC on Monday through Wednesday, April 16 -18, 2007.

What will the team do during the visit?
The team will already have received the complete college Self-Study Report and will have had access to documents via the web site. During the visit, they will be seeking to validate the content of the report in terms of the strengths we have declared and data that support them, as well as concerns that need attention or issues that may confront us in the future. Team members will have meetings with key individuals and groups from across the college and will have open meetings that are less structured. Most of these activities will take place on Monday and Tuesday, April 16 and 17. On Wednesday, April 18, the team will make an Exit Report to the President on their preliminary findings.

What kinds of recommendations might the team make?
The team may simply recommend continued accreditation with no recommended follow-up activities before the next scheduled visit in ten years.  If an institution is in serious trouble, the team could recommend probation or even withdrawal of accreditation. In between there is a range of possible actions, including required progress reports on how the institution is dealing with particular issues, monitoring reports dealing with specific issues that require careful and ongoing attention, contingency reports dealing with changes taking place that affect the mission or nature of the institution, or focus visits on an area of concern.  It is likely that some kind of follow-up activity will be recommended. HLC staff estimate that 75% of institutions will have some kind of follow-up activity required.

What have we learned about Chadron State College from our Self-Study?

Criterion 1:  Mission and Integrity
Strengths – Criterion One

  1. The Chadron State College’s Vision 2011 process is comprehensive and inclusive.  It has created refined mission and vision statements that are widely communicated.
  2. The Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE), the Nebraska State College System (NSCS), and Chadron State College (CSC) have strategic plans that emphasize the diverse needs of the state’s students and service region and the commitment to these constituents.
  3. The college has a strong diversity committee that provides both a consistent framework for campus programming and an articulation of the campus commitment to the inherent value of diversity in the academic environment.
  4. A new position has been created, the Director of Sponsored Research & Funded Initiatives for Minority Student Achievement and Retention.  The Director is actively working on additional grant applications to support implementation of the important initiatives developed by the Title III planning grant, “Reducing Barriers to Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Native American and Hispanic Students at Chadron State College.”
  5. The General Studies core curriculum for all students requires study of Global and Social Awareness, and includes a student learning outcome that values sensitivity to cultural diversity and an appreciation for various cultures and societies.
  6. The CSC mission and vision permeate the planning and delivery of the college’s academic programs, the modality of program delivery, and the extensive outreach activities provided by the college to the students and residents of its service region in rural western Nebraska.
  7. Recent changes in the administrative structure have improved the campus functioning and increased the interaction among internal and external constituents.  Presidential committees have been extensively revised and reduced in number, making their charges more mission critical.
  8. The Faculty Senate and Student Senate interact regularly with the CSC administration and are proactive as issues or concerns arise.
  9. Policy manuals and student, faculty, and staff handbooks are readily available on the Human Resources website.  The Director of Human Resources ensures that the college follows its policies regarding all internal constituents.
  10. Administrators and unit heads participate in annual workshops to ensure compliance with policies and procedures with regard to supervision and evaluation of employees.
  11. All college employees are evaluated every year.  Administrators, faculty, and professional staff develop yearly professional goals that are part of the evaluation process, and administrators are evaluated by faculty each year using the IDEA online survey system.  Student ratings are an important part of faculty evaluation.
Areas for Improvement – Criterion One
 
  1. The mission and vision statements need to be more visible on the college’s website, and need to be more extensively shared with external constituencies.
  2. Although policy documents and handbooks are readily available, students, faculty, and staff may still not be aware of many policies and procedures.
  3. The college needs to continue to strengthen internal and external communication.
Criterion 2:  Preparing for the Future Strengths - Criterion Two
   
  1.  The college is widely engaged in a campus-wide Vision 2011 strategic planning process that is accompanied by individual planning at different levels of the institution including campus-wide meetings, departments, units, organizations, and individuals.  These planning activities direct  the attention of individuals and units to the mission of the college
  2. President Park has identified priority objectives within Vision 2011 and has begun the implementation of a new model for planning and institutional effectiveness.  This model ties assessment analysis and reporting by all units of the campus to the planning and budgeting process.
  3. The college plans extensively for the future.  These plans are based on significant input from its internal and external constituents and its responsiveness to their needs.
  4. Despite negative trends in demography and state appropriations, the college has been able, through assessment of programs and services, to reallocate internal resources in order to provide high quality educational experiences, services, and environments to its students and constituents.
  5. Administrator, faculty, and professional staff annual evaluations are tied to continuous improvement through professional development goals.
  6. Renovation of facilities that support student learning are regularly planned and undertaken by faculty and staff of the college.
  7. CSC was one of fourteen colleges chosen to participate in the pioneer cohort of the HLC Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning over the next four years.  Participation in the Academy will allow the college to significantly accelerate its efforts in assessment.

Areas for Improvement – Criterion Two

  1. The planning and institutional effectiveness process, as outlined by Dr. Park, is brand new and the college needs to ensure follow-through.
  2. The applications for Vision 2011 funding are extensive, and the college needs to consider ways to create synergy and outside funding for these important initiatives.
  3. The college should continue to strengthen communication and involvement with external constituents.
  4. The college needs to complete the CAEL analysis and implement improvements for adult learners.

Criterion 3:  Student Learning And Effective Teaching Strengths – Criterion Three

  1. All academic programs have student learning outcomes-based assessment plans.
  2. Seventy percent of academic units are at least in the process of implementing the “feedback loop” in assessment.  Sixty-seven percent of these are able to detail this implementation.
  3. The college is making progress on creating a culture of assessment.  Its participation in the HLC Assessment Academy over the next four years is important to this effort.
  4. Three specialized accreditations in Business, Education, and Social Work ensure that students graduating from those programs are effectively prepared for their chosen professions.
  5. There are substantial and sustained efforts to create, value, and support effective teaching.  Faculty members across the campus are involved in innovative teaching initiatives.
  6. A system is in place for regular program review that involves faculty, administration, and the boards of the NSCS and the CCPE.
  7. Student Services offers a wide array of programs to assist students in their success, whether they are first-generation students, or in need of assistance with study skills, tutoring, supplemental instruction, counseling, internships, or career placement.
  8. CSC has a long tradition of distance learning at the edge of technological innovation.  These innovations open opportunities for the expansion of student enrollment.

Areas for Improvement – Criterion Three

  1. Some courses do not tie their learning outcomes to program outcomes.
  2. Some multiple sections of the same course taught by different instructors use the same learning outcomes while others do not. Common rubrics are generally not used.
  3. The First Year Experience program has been temporarily delayed due to resignations.  The newly created position of Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Services will allow attention to this critical area at the level of the Presidential Cabinet.
  4. Non-academic units are generally only beginning to formulate assessment strategies and/or collect assessment data.  Thus the assessment feedback loop has not been widely implemented.
  5. The results of the 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement were not useful due to the low number of respondents.  The college will participate again this spring and try to establish longitudinal data with regard to student perceptions.
  6. Many academic programs still rely heavily on measures for senior students with fewer measures being applied at earlier stages in the students’ academic careers.
  7. Students are not fully informed or aware of student services they may need.
Criterion 4:  Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge
Strengths – Criterion Four
 
  1. The strategic plans and policies of the NSCS and Chadron State College clearly articulate the collective institutional value of and commitment to continual learning throughout one’s career and life.
  2. Extensive resources are devoted to support the professional development and scholarly activities of the college’s students, faculty, and staff.
  3. The college endorses a plan of study that promotes depth and proficiency in a single-subject area as well as a breadth of knowledge crossing many academic disciplines through its extensive General Studies program and undergraduate and graduate capstone courses.
  4. The college promotes student growth and development through numerous opportunities for students to engage in creative and scholarly activities.
  5. The college involves students, alumni, employers, and other external constituents in evaluation of the currency and utility of its curricula and services.
  6. The college publishes its policies and procedures about the responsible use of knowledge.  A variety of undergraduate and graduate courses emphasize responsible use of knowledge.  An Information Literacy course has been developed in response to a rise in plagiarism among students.

Areas for Improvement – Criterion Four

  1. The college needs to continue to use and to strengthen the input from external constituents in assessing the value of its curricula. Not all programs have external advising boards.
  2. As faculty members have retired, the involvement in service-learning has diminished.
  3. No established analysis of Professional Activity Record to develop list of creative and scholarly activities by employees.

Criterion 5:  Engagement and Service Strengths – Criterion Five

  1. Chadron State College clearly identifies its constituents and listens to them to discern their needs.
  2. The college is engaged in significant regional partnerships in K-12 education, economic development, and healthcare.
  3. The college creates a wide array of connections with its constituents and devotes substantial resources to engage both its internal and external constituents.
  4. The college is engaged in numerous activities that serve the region’s needs for rural economic development, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and education.  These projects demonstrate the college’s responsiveness to regional needs.
  5. Internal and external constituents value the services the college provides as evidenced by attendance at campus events, and the level of satisfaction demonstrated in surveys of students, alumni, and employers.

Areas for Improvement – Criterion Five

  1. While they are substantial, the records of advising councils and focus group meetings are not well archived within the units of the college, and often reside with single individuals within the college.
  2. There is a lack of systematic process for activating, analyzing, and archiving the alumni survey information and consequently, the ability to share this information widely is hindered.
  3. Much of the survey data focuses on services or career and marketplace needs.  Chadron State College needs to emphasize liberal education that aims to create highly informed, well-developed citizens.

Summary
Chadron State College has extensively engaged its constituents in a reflective self-study process over the past two years.  It has honestly identified areas of strength and areas 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 improve its assessment processes.  The college’s acceptance into the pioneer cohort of the HLC Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning in the fall of 2006 commits CSC to participate in a yearly and 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 report, will allow Chadron State College to evaluate its program on a yearly basis.

What happens next?
Chadron State College will need to look carefully at the results of our self-study and the evaluation team’s report, both for validation of the things that we are doing well and for advice about ways we can improve.  Particular issues may be referred to Presidential, Faculty Senate, or Student Senate committees, to departments on campus, or to special task forces for examination and action.  The results of the re-accreditation and self-study process will be folded into Dr. Park’s model for planning and institutional effectiveness.  As a result of all of these efforts, Chadron State College will seek to become the premier institution that it aspires to be in its mission and vision. 

Questions and Comments
Questions and/or comments are welcomed and encouraged. Please direct them to Lois Veath, (308)432-6203, lveath@csc.edu.