Monday, Tuesday open forums keep community involved in IU's reaccreditation

IU will be visited by the Higher Learning Commission on Sept. 25 and 26 to undergo a reaccreditation process to ensure the University meets high educational standards.

Community, faculty and students have the option to go to a series of forums Monday in the Indiana Memorial Union to discuss this process.

“It sounds complicated because people don’t hear about it much,” said Dennis Groth, vice provost for undergraduate education.

IU gets reaccredited every ten years, and Groth said the reaccreditation evaluates the University based on the federal government’s criteria of quality in colleges. The Higher Learning Commission reviews based on five criteria: IU’s mission statement; integrity and ethical conduct; planning and budgets; student teaching and learning; and faculty teaching and learning.

If a university meets these criteria, it will be reaccredited, which is important in showing prospective students the quality of the school. The Higher Learning Commission takes its evaluation to the U.S. Department of Education, and accreditation gives universities recognition in federal aid and grants.  

Groth also said the site visit brings in faculty from other universities across the country, so it gives IU an opportunity to show off.

“It’s a form of sharing as well – to see the things we’re doing here,” Groth said.

It was also important during this reaccreditation process to include the public, said Provost Lauren Robel in her letter to the campus.

“We are committed to include the IUB community in the process – faculty, staff, students and the local community,” Robel said in the letter.

The forums for the public will start at 11 a.m. Monday in the IMU, three of which have a focus on the criteria the Higher Learning Commission uses to evaluate IU. The others are three open sessions: one for students, one for faculty and one for staff. People are not limited to going to the open session which was created for them though, as students could go to the faculty open session and vice versa, Groth said.

“We knew we wanted students to be able to feel they can say what they want to say around other students,” Groth said.

Groth said the forums will contain no presentations, as that has already been done by IU’s review team, but instead give opportunities to the community to voice opinions, and people are encouraged to attend.

“It’s kind of like there’s an open mic,” Groth said.

Groth said IU constructed a 32,000-word document called the Assurance Argument at the start of this process, which gave insight into how IU believed it met the criteria with evidence in files to prove it. 

For instance, the University stated that the mission is public and approved by the Board of Trustees, providing the trustee minutes in which it was approved and a link to a website that displays it publicly.

“We’re not the same institution we were ten years ago – that’s to be expected,” Groth said, “But the big things are still consistent.”

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