As an accredited college through the Higher Learning Commission, Calvin must undergo a process of re-accreditation every 10 years.
This spring, Calvin will once again go through this process, which involves a written argument from the college, a survey of students and a visit from members of the Higher Learning Commission.
Michael Stob, dean of institutional effectiveness, explained the importance of accreditation to a college: “Accreditation is a certification that we’re of sufficient quality so that people can trust us as an institution of higher education.”
A college or university must be accredited to receive research grants and federal financial aid. Accreditation also allows a college to admit international students and is a factor that grad schools look at when considering potential applicants.
The process of re-accreditation involves a statement of up to 35,000 words that shows that Calvin still meets certain criteria put forth by the Higher Learning Commission. These criteria include mission, integrity, high quality teaching and learning, evaluation of programs and resources available.
Later this semester, representatives of the Higher Learning Commission from other schools will visit Calvin for a day and a half, meeting with the president, talking to board members and holding open forums.
Student input is an important part of this process as well, according to Stob. Later this week, a short survey will be sent out to all the Calvin students. Responses will be anonymous and go straight to the commission.
“Survey response rates from students are [generally] going down,” said Stob. “It would be nice if the response rate of this survey was good. It would tell the commission that students are aware that this accreditation process is happening and that they’re willing to take the time to put input into it.”
Calvin College has been accredited for around 85 years, since 1930. “Practically, we’re a quality institution. We’re not going to lose accreditation,” said Stob.
“But that’s not the only purpose [of this process]. This is about taking time to look back and ask how we are doing. If we do this right, it has value for quality improvement at Calvin.”