(THE PICKET) – Shepherd University faculty, department chairs, administrators and students participated in a review March 7-8 by the Higher Learning Commission visiting to determine whether to accredit the university.
“The institutions write reports about themselves, we read the documents, and we interview people. Accreditation is a stamp of approval that on the whole, the processes and the courses have integrity,” said Lee Krehbiel, a peer reviewer with the Higher Learning Commission.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits post-secondary institutions in 19 states, ensuring that the institutions are run in a professional manner and meet reasonable standards.
“Without accreditation, schools can lose their ability to receive federal funding. It is devastating to lose accreditation, so this is an important process,” Krehbiel said.
The ultimate goal of the Higher Learning Commission is to identify strengths and weaknesses of an institution, and to use their findings for improvement. The Higher Learning Commission uses peer review to assist in this process, including interviewing students.
One such student is senior political science major Graham Scott, who attended the drop-in session. “My advisor and I are close, we communicate a lot, so I rank faculty availability extremely high,” said Scott.
According to Krehbiel, this is the kind of information that is valuable to peer reviewers. “We know from research that when there are personal relationships with faculty, students are more likely to come back the next year and to graduate.”
Prospective students are also significant to the Higher Learning Commission.
“Families and prospective students should get a reasonable idea and true picture of what a university is like before they go there,” Krehbiel said.
Shepherd’s ability to provide accurate information about financial aid policies, programs, and the cost of attendance is evaluated to ensure that vital information is available.