Concordia undergoes accreditation process

Concordian Archives.
Photo from Concordian Archives.

Concordia College is up for accreditation this year, undergoing thorough internal and external evaluation to determine its legitimacy as an institution. The college has been continuously accredited since 1927.

Accreditation is the process that allows a college to grant diplomas. A team of evaluators comes to campus and observes for three days then writes up a report based on what they see.

Concordia is evaluated by the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six institutions in the United States that can grant accreditation to post-secondary schools.

Four evaluators from four different colleges will be on campus Nov. 4-6, according to Dr. Michael Wohlfeil and Dr. Kristi Loberg, co-chairs of Concordia’s self study.

In preparation for evaluation, Concordia has participated in a self study for the last two years to identify strengths and weaknesses of the institution, according to Wohlfeil.

When the Higher Learning Commission last granted accreditation, they listed strengths of the institution and aspects of the college that need improvement before it could seek accreditation again, Wohlfeil said.

The evaluators praised the college’s internationally recognized music program, global education program, language villages and the integration of faith and learning, according to Wohlfeil.

However, the report was not all glowing.

“The Higher Learning Commission named five criteria of weakness during the last evaluation that the college has been working to improve,” Wohlfeil said.

The five criteria were assessment of students and the core curriculum, the lack of diversity in both students and faculty, the lack of ventilation in science facilities, accessibility for students with disabilities and greater technology coordination on campus, according to Wohlfeil.

The purpose of the self-study was to show the evaluators evidence of the college’s efforts to improve on the five criteria, according to Loberg.

“We’ve looked at how well Concordia met each of those criteria, and we provide evidence in the report,” Loberg said.

For example, following the last evaluation, the core curriculum’s theme became “Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World,” according to the published self-study report.  BREW has been a staple of the college ever since.

The ventilation system in the science labs was renovated as well, and Bruce Vieweg was promoted to help solve the technology issues, according to Wohlfeil.

The evaluators have studied the report and will be conducting interviews with faculty, staff and some students during the three days they are on campus, according to Loberg.

“Student participation is strongly encouraged,” Loberg said. “Students on campus have been fairly involved in the self-study process.”

Representatives in the student government have contributed through dialogue during the self-study process, according to Loberg. They have encouraged students to attend an upcoming forum with the evaluators to provide them with an accurate understanding of the college.

Students who wish to speak to the evaluators can attend an open forum at 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 in Jones Conference Center A-B. The evaluators will be asking students how well the college has carried out the initiatives stated in the report, according to Loberg.

The college will be notified of its accreditation in late January, and a campus-wide report will be sent out soon after.


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