Ferris preps process to be reaccredited

Ferris is scheduled for a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visit next spring for reaccreditation of the university.

The Higher Learning Reaccreditation Visiting Team is set to visit the campus on April 18-20, 2011. Roberta Teahen, associate provost and self-study coordinator on the HLC, said the entire university is involved with preparing for the visit.

The Reaccreditation Visiting Team will determine if Ferris is meeting the standards and values it represents in order to be reaccredited as a public university.

Teahen, along with four other faculty members, are “intimately” involved in the process. These members include Sandy Balkema, self-study writer/editor and professor in the Languages and Literatures Department, Christine Vonder Harr co-chair of the steering committee and faculty member in the Languages and Literature Department, and Michael Cairns, associate vice president of student affairs. However, more than 100 people are involved and have been serving on a variety of committees.

In preparation for the visit, the university has conducted a number of surveys from students, alumni and staff, said Teahen. The HLC is composed of five steering committees that are in charge of gathering information and data related to the committee’s given criterion.

The criteria used to evaluate Ferris include “Mission and Integrity,” “Preparing for the Future,” “Student Learning and Effective Teaching,” “Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge,” and “Engagement and Service.”

Balkema said the HLC is currently in a review stage and that she is writing chapters of reviews on things such as what has changed on campus since the last visit.

“Come September, we’ll have another set of reviews from the entire campus community,” said Balkema.

She said they would receive reviews from various groups on campus, such as student groups and employer groups, to ensure they are representing the university fairly.

Currently, the committees are focusing on areas of improvement in the university. Teahen said the next challenge is to see if there are areas to be worked on and if the committees have to form plans to make improvements.

When the team visits the campus, it pays attention to different aspects each visit, said Balkema. For the visit in 2011, the key aspects the teams will be looking for revolve around if Ferris is representing diversity and globalization.

“They change as education changes,” said Balkema. She also said when it visits the campus, the team will walk up to a student on campus and ask them if they know what is going on with accreditation.

Teahen said the steering committees welcome more student participation. Both Teahen and Balkema feel it is important for students to be aware of the accreditation process.

Students are welcome to serve on one of the committees and attend forums. Eventually, Teahen said they would like to see one or two students added to the steering committees.

Students who are interested may contact Teahen at ext. 3805 or teahenr@nullferris.edu. n