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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 29, 2005

First accreditation report draft awaits comments -- yours

by Diana Pounds

The self-study report that's a key part of Iowa State's upcoming Higher Learning Commission (formerly NCA) university-wide accreditation review is taking shape on a university Web site, and the accreditation steering committee would like some early input on it.

"The report is very much a draft at this point, and we expect that all sections will undergo major revision and refinement over the next several months," said David Holger, associate provost and leader of the self-study steering committee. "Suggestions and comments now will help considerably as we develop and refine the draft in preparation for a thorough university community discussion early next fall."

The self-study is an important part of the Higher Learning Commission's accreditation process, Holger said. "It is a primary information source that allows the accreditation team to learn about Iowa State before it visits the university. And it's where we provide evidence to show that we meet the criteria for reaccreditation."

Holger pointed out that, for the first time, Iowa State's self-study is being developed as an online document, rather than the hefty hunk of paper that once was handed to accreditation teams. (The self-study site is at Paper copies also will be available for use by team members.

How to comment

Beginning May 1, comments on the self-study can be sent to or submitted online via a response link on the self-study Web site.

Holger said the steering committee is interested in comments and suggestions pertaining to the organization and content of the Web site and is particularly interested in feedback regarding:

  • Whether the report accurately characterizes Iowa State and its programs. "Did we miss something or mischaracterize something?" he asked.
  • The balance between reasonable completeness and appropriate conciseness.
  • Suggestions for examples of things that Iowa State does particularly well.
  • Areas in which the university needs to improve. "For example," Holger said, "we may feel that we have not adequately addressed issues of student community interaction and engagement."
  • Potential initiatives for the future. One example might be the proposed reinvigoration of the honors program, he added.

Campus discussion, team visit

The steering committee will continue to develop, refine and seek comments on the self-study throughout the summer and fall.

"Targeted groups on campus will be asked to scrutinize specific sections of the report," Holger said. "The associate deans for undergraduate programs, for example, will be asked to review the undergraduate section of the report, and broad input will be sought from representative groups such as the Faculty Senate, Professional and Scientific Council, and the Government of the Student Body."

The entire university community will have multiple opportunities to review and provide additional input to the study, both via electronic input and through a series of open meetings, in the fall, Holger said.

Study timeline

The self-study will be completed by the end of December and submitted to the Higher Learning Commission. A team of 14 individuals from other universities within the Higher Learning Commission region will visit campus March 27-29, 2006.

The accreditation team recommends whether an institution is reaccredited and for how long. The maximum reaccreditation period is for 10 years. The team also is likely to make suggestions on how the university can improve and may require formal reports on suggested changes or specific issues.

The spirit of the accreditation process has changed over the years, Holger said.

"The focus now is on documentation of how the ongoing operation and planning processes of the institution meet accreditation criteria."


The self-study site is at