HLC FAQ

HLC SNU FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
related to the Higher Learning Commission Comprehensive Visit

What is accreditation?

Accreditation assures constituents and current and prospective students that a university can do its job well. Accrediting agencies are responsible for assuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards in terms of their missions, operations, and activities. Unaccredited schools are not eligible for many kinds of federal support.

Institutional accreditation results from a positive evaluation of the entire institution, covering everything from admissions to educational activities and student learning, to overall institutional effectiveness, governance, administration, financial stability, student services, institutional resources, and relationships with internal and external constituencies. SNU’s overall institutional accreditation is provided by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC): A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. SNU is presently accredited by HLC for master’s level education in Oklahoma. SNU is presently applying for re-accreditation by completing an SNU Self-Study and hosting an evaluation team on campus in October.

In addition, particular programs of study at SNU (education, nursing, music, athletic training) are accredited by specialized academic agencies such as NCATE, CCNE, NASM, and CAATE. SNU’s School of Business is also seeking first-time accreditation from ACBSP.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation is important to students because it

• provides value to an SNU degree in the eyes of employers and other educational institutions to which you may apply for graduate or professional degrees after graduating from SNU
• assists other institutions in evaluating transfer coursework and credits
• allows eligible SNU students to participate in federal financial aid programs and other funding opportunities.

What is the Higher Learning Commission?

The Higher Learning Commission is the agency of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools responsible for accrediting colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. Founded in 1895, the North Central Association is one of six regional associations in the United States. The North Central region includes Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The Higher Learning Commission's name refers to the emphasis in higher education on accountability for student learning. The Commission’s mission is to serve the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning. HLC is committed to strengthening institutional quality by developing and maintaining high standards of excellence.

What does the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) look for when it accredits universities?

HLC has adopted a new set of criteria for evaluation that went into effect in 2004-2005. The five new criteria areas are these:

• Mission and Integrity
• Preparing for the Future
• Student Learning and Effective Teaching
• Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge
• Engagement and Service  

What is the purpose of the site visit?

The purpose of the campus visit is to assess institutional quality and the overall health of the university, and to verify the contents, tone, and conclusions about SNU presented in the Self-Study report. Team members are consultant-evaluators who will evaluate how well the university meets the criteria for accreditation, and provide advice on issues the university has identified and make recommendations on ways SNU can continue to improve.

How has SNU been preparing for the visit?

HLC requires a public comment period prior to the visit, which SNU has completed by posting notices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa newspapers, the SOUTHERN LIGHT, my.snu, and SNU Web site.

A weekly eforecast series was started at the beginning of the semester, focusing on how SNU meets specific HLC criteria. HLC information is also featured on the SNU Web page (www.snu.edu/hlc).

An executive summary of the Self-Study will be distributed to campus faculty, staff, board, and community groups. Information brochures will be distributed to students. Students, staff, and faculty will soon notice displays of table-tents, posters, banners in the Commons and other major campus buildings and in classrooms

Finally, there will be all-campus HLC info meetings for students (Sept. 16), staff (Sept. 22), and faculty (Sept. 24) focusing on readiness for the site visit. All major campus committee in September will be briefed by Steering Committee members on issues of particular relevance to their areas of responsibility.

What will the visiting team do to prepare before coming to campus?

Before the site visit, the team will review the SNU Self-Study Report and Change Request document, SNU's Institutional Snapshot and Federal Compliance reports, the SNU Catalog and Web site, and other SNU electronic documents from the Virtual Resource Room made available in advance.