By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor (Photo by Jacob Factor/The Bison)
February 20, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed OBU’s accreditation for another 10 years.
According to hlcommission.org, the Higher Learning Commission regularly looks at the development of practices and programs to advance accreditation as well as benefit member institutions and their students.
“It’s that peers from other universities and colleges come to help their peer at this particular institution, do what they do better,” provost and executive vice president for campus life Dr. Stan Norman said. “It’s educators talking to educators about how to do what they do better.”
The HLC visited OBU’s campus on September 25 and 26 of 2017. OBU has been accredited by the HLC since it was initially received under Dr. Raley.
“We did very well,” Norman said. “I was proud of our team and proud of the university community.”
OBU excelled in many areas, one of the most prominent areas was not only the amount of evidence and data provided, but also the level and depth of that information.
“We were commended for our planning preparation, we were commended for how many across the university participated in this,” Norman said. “It truly was a university effort in our reaffirmation. We were commended for the attention we gave to the HLC’s suggestions from their last visit. We were commended for some of the steps we’ve taken for ongoing continuous improvement and strategic planning.”
Although there was growth from the previous visit, OBU still had areas to improve on.
“They always want to try and help,” Norman said. “One of the areas that they said we could work on is, not that we need to start strategic planning, but enhancing it and continue to improve our strategic planning and decision making.”
Reaffirmation from the HLC impacts all areas of the university. Therefore, a committee was created with representation for all the different colleges at OBU and faculty from across the spectrum.
“The expectation from HLC is that faculty leadership and faculty input is significant, so we structure our reaffirmation committee to be heavily influenced and lead by faculty,” Norman said.
Due to his love of Christian education and his passion for quality, Dr. Travers was a major contributor to the success of the HLC visit.
“This really is, for OBU, the legacy and great measure of Dr. Travers,” Norman said. “He worked so hard to get us ready for this and provided such a winsome and professional leadership. By the time of his passing, we were on the precipice of complete readiness. We were well positioned. We were ready.”
The HLC reaffirmation visit is important because it provides peer-led quality control, that way the quality of education is held to high standards regardless of the institution.
Financial aid is also tied to regional accreditation. Therefore, through the accreditation, students are able to qualify for financial aid, Pell grants, etc.
The ability to qualify for professional licensure is available due to the accreditation as well.
“I believe in our accreditation efforts,” Norman said. “I would like to think that we would always be striving for continuous improvement and I think at OBU this is always the case. However, it’s good to have these higher standards nationally. We are at our best when peers come in and provide outside eyes to make us better. At the end of the day, that’s what accreditation and reaffirmation are about; to make us better – continuous improvement.