Mount Mercy undergoes pioneer re-accreditation process

On CampusSpring 2013

Universities are a core element of the social and intellectual fabric of the nation, and are subject to the expectation of public accountability. Accreditation of universities is an essential part of that accountability.

In the fall Mount Mercy welcomed a group of peer reviewers for a mission review commissioned by the Conference for Mercy Higher Education. Mount Mercy is the first of 13 CMHE institutions to undergo this review process, intended to be scheduled and supportive of regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. The HLC is the Midwestern arm of the regional accreditation agencies operating collectively across the nation, approved by the U.S. Department of Education to “license” universities to conduct business.

The pioneering institutions undertaking a brand new model of HLC accreditation are using the “Pathways Model,” which is split into two different components: a quality initiative process and an assurance process. For the past three years, Mount Mercy has developed the quality initiative through faculty-student research and scholarship that has now been completed and approved by the commission.

As part of the process, Mount Mercy also welcomed a team of peer educators in February for a two-day visit and review. The whole of Mount Mercy University is reviewed for mission, educational quality, resources, and outcomes. There are five key criteria, which cover a broad range of campus work, focusing on: mission, ethical and responsible conduct, teaching and learning quality, resources and support, teaching and learning evaluation and improvement, and resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

Similar to a classroom setting in which students are assessed, the process remains similar when it comes to re-accreditation: allowing the institution to “benchmark” its work against normative standards and criteria, and to grow thereafter as a result. It is a welcomed example of the teaching and learning philosophy to which Mount Mercy commits itself to daily with the student body.

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