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UWRF prepares for re-accreditation in April

September 27, 2007

Every 10 years, UW-River Falls gets reviewed for accreditation by the Commission of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools.  This April, the commission will review the university and make a campus visit.  Accreditation is an important and extensive process.

An accredited university is an institution of higher education that has met all the requirements of the Higher Learning Commission.

There are five criterion that UWRF will have to meet: “Mission and Integrity; Preparing for the Future; Student Learning and Effective Teaching; Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge; and Engagement and Service,” states the Higher Learning Commission Web site.

According to Chancellor Betz, the visit from the commission is very structured and “choreographed.” The commission will arrive on April 21 and stay until April 23.  Public forums will be held for students, faculty and the community so they can voice their opinions of UWRF to the committee. The commission will tour the campus.  After the commission visits, they develop a report to the NCA for review.

Gorden Hedahl, the former Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, is the accreditation coordinator.  He has been organizing the preparations for the visit, and sees it crucial that UWRF is re-accredited.

“It is essential we (UWRF) are re-accredited [in the spring] because we can’t offer federal financial aid to students if not accredited,” said Hedahl.

UWRF has been preparing for the visit since summer of 2005 by conducting a self-study of the University.

“The self-study will require the participation of people from every part of the campus as we look carefully at what we have been doing to maintain quality and as we examine our plans for the future of the university,” according to the UWRF Web site on accreditation.

The members of the study consist of alumni, faculty and students. Student Senate approved the students who participated in the study; most of them have graduated. The study is on schedule, and the third draft of the study can be critiqued by the campus and community online at University’s Web site.

On Oct. 15, the planning committee will review the input received on the third draft, and the taskforces will prepare the final draft of the self-study report. The final report is due before the NCA visits in the spring.

Chancellor Betz sees the re-accreditation process as a chance for UWRF to have a close inspection of itself and that it’s “essential” that the University is re-accredited.  After the study, the University will be able to identify its challenges.

“I’m confident that we will be well prepared,” Chancellor Betz said.

UWRF is already an accredited university, but every 10 years UWRF is reviewed by the commission in order to retain accreditation. UWRF was first accredited in 1935; the last time the University was reviewed was in 1997.