Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

University accredited for another 10 years

The university has received official notice that it has earned continuing accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.


For more information
The HLC report can be found on the accreditation website.

Accreditation is a process that universities undergo to make sure they meet certain standards, and to demonstrate to the public — particularly students — the quality of their infrastructure supporting academic programs and other activities. U-M has been accredited since 1913.

A letter sent last week to President Mary Sue Coleman concludes an extensive two-and-a-half-year process that involved faculty and staff working groups, forums, data collection, a comprehensive self-study, a site visit from a team of higher education leaders, and a thorough final review of the university by several commission teams and its board.

“Many people — deans, faculty and staff — worked diligently to examine where we are today as a university and to look toward the future of our institution,” Coleman says. “The university not only met the standards for accreditation by the association, but it excelled in nearly all areas, receiving high praise from the review team.”

HLC evaluates institutions in five major categories: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service.

In particular, the HLC noted that the university, despite declining state support, has weathered the nation’s financial crisis well, such that academic programs remain strong and the university continues to enhance its reputation as a leader in higher education.

It commended the university on its demonstrated commitment to diversity and outreach activities; a participatory governance structure that includes faculty, staff and students; the strength of its central leadership in a decentralized setting; and the quality of its faculty and staff.

The final report highlights a range of programs and activities at the university including the multidisciplinary learning and team teaching initiative and the commitment to hire 100 new junior faculty in support of interdisciplinarity; the university’s work to involve students in research, outreach and engagement; and its leadership in economic development in a state hard-hit by the recession.

Former Provost Teresa Sullivan, who oversaw the accreditation process, says the extensive self-study that comes with the every-decade review is a chance for the university to examine its current operations, reflect on its goals, and incorporate new ideas and insights into its vision for the future.

“The university is grateful to the individuals and groups on campus and across the state who participated in the accreditation discussions,” Sullivan says. “The knowledge the university gained will strengthen and enhance the educational experience of all our students as it informs and shapes plans for programs and activities such as global education, multidisciplinary learning and the evaluation of educational outcomes.”

Comprehensive universities of U-M’s size are allowed to choose a special emphasis study to highlight and receive feedback from the commission. The university chose internationalization.

“It was very gratifying to see that the Higher Learning Commission was complimentary of our commitment to be a global university,” says Ben van der Pluijm, Bruce R. Clark Collegiate Professor of Geology, who headed the campus reaccreditation process. “And while reviewers praised the many programs we offer to engage students, faculty and staff in international issues and cultures, the commission also has a number of recommendations that will be helpful as we place greater emphasis on internationalization.”

Among the suggestions is creating a stronger tie between the myriad international experiences and the curriculum, to offer a central location in support of international activities, and working to achieve more learning across disciplines.

A more thorough reaction to and analysis of the report will be forthcoming, van der Pluijm says.