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University works to become reaccredited

Students now attend an accredited institution and the University is going through a process to make sure it stays that way this spring.

“There are over 3,000 universities in our association … that agree to review each other to ensure we’re meeting standards,” said Joseph Frizado, vice provost for academic operations and assessment.

Frizado is referring to a regional accreditation association the University is a part of — the North Central Association for the Higher Learning Commission.

The University must prove to the commission that it is complying with federal and other standards for universities.

“We have to show our colleagues that we have degree programs, that we have student support services … and that the students who attend the University fit what we’re doing,” he said.

The process involves proving that the University is doing everything stated in its mission by bringing in people from outside the University to evaluate it, Frizado said. The University goes through the process every 10 years, he said.

“It’s to make sure that whatever you say you’re doing to the public, to the rest of the world, that our colleagues can verify that’s the truth,” Frizado said.

One of the key components is federal compliance, he said.

“The risk of losing accreditation would really fall upon the students with federal student aid,” he said. “If we’re not accredited all the funding for students goes away.”

This year, the process is different, and the University is one of the first institutions trying it out, he said.

Ten years ago, the process involved a committee of 35 people, a resource room filled with documents and file cabinets and a document that was hundreds of pages long, Frizado said.

This time, the process is web-based, and there are specific questions the committee must answer, he said. There is also a word limit of 35,000 and a limit of 12 people who can enter data into the website, he said.

“It used to be a term paper, now it’s a web-based essay,” he said.

The information has to be completed by March 15 and then a six-person review team composed of people from other institutions come to the University on April 15, Frizado said.

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