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UWRF receives reaffirmed accreditation

February 12, 2019

Last semester, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls went through the process of becoming reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is an organization that grants accreditation to colleges and universities, UWRF goes through a 10 year course and is reviewed by the organization to maintain the position of an accredited university.

The HLC made an on-site visit to campus, which is done every decade, and reviewed several components of criteria and each component must be met in order for the university to receive reaffirmed accreditation.

The report from the on-campus visit was received in mid-January and the result granted the university re-accreditation. The report contained several pages of review and went through specific items, listed whether or not components were met, met with concerns, or not met and then gave evidence for the reasoning in the result.

Each item was met, except one piece of criteria that was given the review of met with concerns. Wes Chapin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and chair of the UWRF re-accreditation committee, explained that many universities receive “one or a couples reviews stating met with concerns, so this was expected.”

UWRF was specifically given four years to work on this criteria whereas other schools occasionally have shorter deadlines to work on urgent areas of concern, so overall the full report was a positive outcome.

The criteria that received the review of met with concerns was the component regarding the engagement of systematic and integrated planning. Within the report the HLC suggests that UWRF should work on a “comprehensive enrollment management plan,” which would help with enrollment recruitment and retention at the university. This will ensure that the university can maintain a steady and reliable budget moving forward since raising tuition rates is not an option for the university.

The report overall showed accomplishment and provided extensive evidence as to how the university met the mandatory criteria. Chapin said, “It is a fantastic outcome, and the report reflects a lot of work from people all across campus.”

The work that went into the preparation for this process was lengthy, Chapin has been working on this reaccrediting process since July of 2016 and he expressed that the positive report and the reaffirmation was positive payoff.

The next review will take place in another four years within the 10 year cycle and that review will be executed remotely. The HLC will reevaluate the concerns they had with this visit and also review other components of criteria. Until then, the university maintains the status of an accredited institution.

There are plans in place to start working on items within the report, including a new comprehensive enrollment management plan that was suggested by the HLC as well as other factors. After another four years of planning and improving, another assurance argument with all the criteria will be sent and reviewed. The HLC will be expecting new improvements and corrections on criteria during the next review.