A site visit team from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is visiting Fort Hays State University today and Thursday, Feb. 1, in a quality checkup under the association's Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).
"The purpose of this accreditation visit is for improvement rather than compliance, as one might expect from AQIP," said FHSU Provost Larry Gould.
FHSU's accreditation was first renewed under AQIP in 2000, when the continuous improvement track was new. AQIP was designed to support, encourage and recognize institutions for their continuous improvement efforts and accomplishments. That renewal extended to the 2007-2008 academic year. FHSU has participated in a cycle of strategy forums and comprehensive quality reviews that "demonstrate our commitment to quality improvement," said Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost for quality management at FHSU.
Under the AQIP criteria, FHSU commits to "a systematic initiative to improve continuously its academic and related processes and their results" and "to provide AQIP with regular information and evidence of Fort Hays State University's systematic efforts and accomplishments in continuous academic quality improvement."
"Every AQIP institution must continue to meet the exacting standards of accreditation for the Higher Learning Commission," said Crawford.
The site-visit team is Dr. Fernando F. Padro, associate professor of education leadership at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, N.J., and Dr. Lawrence E. Ressler, vice president of academics and student development and dean of the faculty at Tabor College, Hillsboro.
Today's schedule included a breakfast meeting with the university's Operations Committee, led by Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost for quality management at FHSU. That was to be followed by meetings with the Assessment Steering Committee, the Internationalization Team and the Mobile Computing Task Force. After a working lunch with representatives from student affairs and administration and finance, the team will meet with members of the Department of Political Science, the American Democracy Project Vision Team, the Center for Civic Leadership and with community members.
On Thursday, Feb. 1, morning activities begin at 8 a.m. with a campus-wide breakfast reception, which will be followed by a meeting with the Provost's Council and a meeting with FHSU President Edward H. Hammond. In the afternoon, Padro and Ressler will meet with the Council for Institutional Effectiveness and the Strategic Planning Committee. They will conduct an exit interview beginning at 4 p.m. with Hammond, the vice presidents and deans, and the Operations Committee.
Crawford said the goals of the quality checkup site visit are to affirm the accuracy of FHSU's systems portfolio and verify information included in the portfolio; to review action projects and strategies to capitalize on the strengths and opportunities for improvement; to assure continuing organizational quality improvement commitment; to confirm the institution's compliance with accreditation expectations; and to review and update the relationship between FHSU and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
The visit team will also provide counsel concerning any issues that require immediate attention, said Crawford.