As we begin the new academic year, Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) does so with a "clean bill of health" from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) which is our accrediting body with the North Central Association of colleges and universities. The HLC is required by the U.S. Department of Education to assure that all member institutions are in compliance with the expectations of specific regulations that the accreditors must enforce for the college to earn federal recognition. In addition, the Commission is required to review the institution's compliance with its Title IV program responsibilities. Compliance with all of these requirements by the college is necessary to ensure that we are accredited by the HLC, which is the only way the institution and students can be eligible for financial aid.
Our college's accreditation is based on meeting criteria comprised of 21 core components that cover a broad range of areas. We must be able to provide evidence to validate that all areas are met. A massive report goes into a team of reviewers who spend several days conducting the evaluation of the college's documentation. We then receive a systems appraisal feedback report that tells us very specifically if we have met the criteria or if we have compliance issues that need to be addressed. And finally, the college undergoes a site visit by the examiners at which time, a number of personal interviews are conducted and further validation of proper documentation is required. The entire process is time and labor intensive to say the least.
Our concentration on continuous quality improvement, a commitment to a district-wide strategic plan, and a relentless focus on our mission statement are the fundamental elements that resulted in an outstanding accreditation report. As we begin the fall academic term, we do so with a renewed commitment to excellence and the same fundamentals that have now been officially validated. So, what's the big deal? What do I mean by a "clean bill of health?" Without full accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, our students cannot apply for federal financial aid, and we might as well close our doors. It's a very big deal, and furthermore, we are very proud to announce that IVCCD met all core components of the rigorous criteria established by the HLC with no compliance issues cited not a claim that every college and university in the country can make.
Christopher Duree is the Chancellor of Iowa Valley Community College and can be reached at 641-844-5720.