Dear colleagues and students:
Next week, a very important event in the life of the University is taking place. On Feb. 27-28 and March 1, a site visit team from our regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, will be on campus to carry out our scheduled Comprehensive Quality Review (CQR). I am writing to provide you with some background information about this visit, and to suggest how you might interact with the site team during their time here.
These recurring visits are major components of our accreditation process, which in turn is based on a continuous-quality-improvement model known as the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). HLC institutions provide ongoing evidence of improvement through reports and action plans. During a CQR visit, the site team meets with administrators, faculty, staff, and students to follow up on issues raised in the reports the institution has submitted. This visit is typically the last step before our accreditation is reaffirmed for another eight-year cycle.
Regional accreditation means, among other things, that our course credits are recognized and can be transferred across the nation and presented to graduate programs by our students. Our accreditation status is also a condition for students being able to use their federal financial aid at Metropolitan State.
The reviewers will have scheduled meetings with some colleagues based on their areas of responsibility, and those persons have these meetings scheduled. In addition, there are open sessions with the reviewers for faculty, staff, and students, at the following times:
- Faculty Open Session , 3:45 to 4:45 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, Ecolab, Saint Paul Campus
- Student Open Session , noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, Student Center, room 201 (lunch)
- Staff Open Session , 1:15 to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, Ecolab, Saint Paul Campus
If you are able to attend a session, or if you should encounter a reviewer around campus, here are some suggestions about how to enhance their visit:
- Welcome the peer reviewers.
- Be forthcoming and open in your responses.
- Share the University’s story. Help the reviewers understand our strengths, ambitions and distinctions.
- It’s fine to acknowledge opportunities for improvement and to provide examples of actions we’ve taken to address issues.
- Understand that the reviewers do not provide feedback during their visit. They later submit recommendations, and the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) will make the final decision, which will be communicated to us.
The site visit team’s full agenda is available on the University internal network drive, at: S:\Metro\HLC Peer Reviewers\HLC_Visit_Agenda_2_17_17. Finally, I encourage you to prepare for the visit by becoming familiar with some of the information we have provided to the reviewers, and which they will have studied before coming to campus. In the same folder, you can view information such as:
- Metropolitan State University’s Systems Portfolio (2015) — These Systems Portfolios are major self-studies required of all institutions in the 6th year of the 8-year accreditation cycle.
- The Systems Appraisal Feedback Report (2015) — This is the first response from HLC reviewers to our Systems Portfolio.
- Federal Compliance Filing (2017) — Required by the U.S. Department of Education. This report is directly tied to the Federal Student Aid Report; it is reviewed by HLC, and the CQR team will discuss this report with our financial officers while they are visiting Metro State.
- Quality Highlights Report (2017) — This is Metro State’s response to the HLC comments in the Systems Appraisal Feedback Report.
- Additionally, you will find a survey of Metropolitan State students conducted by HLC (2016), a list of the names and credentials of our visiting CQR Reviewers, standards for reaffirmation of accreditation Criteria for Accreditation and the full meeting agenda of their visit.
Most, but not all, of these resources are also available on the University's website.
I want to again thank the many faculty and staff who have been working diligently for months on the reports, documents, and tasks directly related to this site visit. As you can tell from the information above, this is a continuous improvement process that never ends. I invite you to explore ways to contribute, both during the upcoming site visit, and year-round.
President Virginia "Ginny" Arthur, JD
Metropolitan State University