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

Nov. 3, 2006

Accreditation continued

by Diana Pounds

A two-year self-study and a spring visit by an external review team has culminated in continued accreditation status for Iowa State University.

President Gregory Geoffroy recently received notice of the accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The next comprehensive evaluation of the university is scheduled for 2015-16. ISU's accreditation is continued without stipulations, interim reports or interim visits until that time.

In its report, the team of nine reviewers who visited campus last March pointed out that Iowa State had faced numerous challenges as a result of reduced state funding.

Noteworthy progress

"Despite these challenges, the university has made noteworthy progress in increasing the quality of its programs and services, responsiveness to various constituencies, student retention and graduation rates, fund raising and funded research, among others," the team wrote in its report.

The report also notes that "the university has developed a succinct and vibrant strategic plan, reallocated over $20 million in resources, made significant improvements in university facilities and elevated the stature of the university among land-grant institutions."

Associate provost David Holger led the self-study, a precursor to the reviewers' campus visit. In the study, university officials reflected on Iowa State's current status and its aspirations, and provided evidence that the university had met the HLC's criteria for accreditation.

"The team determined that we fulfilled expectations in all five criteria -- mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service," Holger said.

Among many ISU accomplishments cited by the review team, Holger said, were the effectiveness of learning communities on student performance and retention, the culture of interdisciplinary research and education, and commitment to serving the people of the state.

The full report

Holger urged faculty and staff to read the HLC report, which is available at

"The review team offered many useful comments and suggestions," he said. University officials already have developed initial responses to a number of the team's suggestions and will continue to refine and implement responses to ideas provided by the team, he added.

Iowa State has been continuously accredited since 1916.

The review team commended Iowa State for its:

  • Commitment to its land-grant mission
  • Culture of collaboration
  • Student-centered approach to education
  • Inclusive strategic planning process
  • Committed faculty, staff and students
  • Support of administrative leadership
  • Nationally recognized learning communities
  • Open, consultative administrative team
  • Engaged and articulate student leaders

Among review team observations:

  • ISU should strengthen and increase the uniformity of processes to assess learning outcomes
  • Potential impacts of the proposed budget model should be carefully considered
  • Declines in faculty salaries relative to peers must be corrected
  • Budget cuts threaten Extension's national excellence
  • Competitive support packages could help attract more of the best graduate students