Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Jacob Berenson
Students attending liberal arts colleges like K may wonder how quality control is enforced at such a small school. A little over a year from now, Kalamazoo College (like many schools) will undergo the once-a-decade process known as reaccreditation, by which the school’s overall quality will be determined.
Students can rest easy, however. A committee compromised of K faculty has been preparing for this evaluation by conducting a self-study of various aspects of the college. Eric Nordmoe, Associate Professor of Mathematics at K, is chairing this Self-Study Steering Committee. He discussed some of the finer details of the reaccreditation process.
“Kalamazoo College is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges, and they have body called the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) that does the actual reaccreditation,” said Nordmoe. “One of the reasons we have to be accredited has to do with getting funding and having students eligible for grants, and it also has to do with our constituency seeing K as a school in good standing.”
Nordmoe also explained that the HLC will base its evaluation on five major criteria which include: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery, and application of knowledge; and engagement and service.
But students may wonder what happens if the HLC deems any of these criteria unmet by the college. According to the HLC’s website (www.nachlc.org) the college could receive a full “reaccreditation without contingencies” at best, to a complete “denial of reaccreditation” at worst. If caught between these extremes, the HLC will ask the college to address any problems, at which point the HLC will reaccredit the college.
As K approaches its evaluation by the HLC during the first week of October next year, the steering committee will be involving the entire K community in the self-study process through open meetings. These open meetings will address the five criteria the HLC evaluates, and they will also work directly with students on StuComm and other on campus constituencies.
Nordmoe is encouraging students to attend these meetings. He noted that attending a meeting run by Dr. Mary Breslin, the staff liaison from the steering committee, would be a particularly good opportunity for students to learn more about the reaccreditation process. The meeting will take place on Thursday October 4th at four p.m. in the Olmsted Room. Students can also see what the steering committee has already done by going to the Kalamazoo College portal and clicking the “reaccreditation” link under Team Sites.