INA - Rend Lake College needs to know what you think. The Ina-based community college is asking for comments and thoughts from its constituents as part of a critical reaccreditation process.
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools will conduct a comprehensive evaluation visit Nov. 17-19. It is one of six accrediting agencies in the nation which provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis. As part of the reaccreditation process, RLC is conducting an extensive self-study of its programs and operations.
"Rend Lake College welcomes and encourages comments and feedback from those we serve," said Interim President Charley Holstein. "The comments our constituents provide assist us in our self-assessment and often drive improvements we make across the campus and to our course and degree offerings. I encourage anyone interested in doing so, to provide comments to the Higher Learning Commission through the process described below."
RLC seeks comments from RLC students, in-district high school students, parents, interested taxpayers, local business and industry and anyone else with an interest in Rend Lake College. All comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs.
"Feedback is essential to understanding how effective we are at serving students and the community, and to identify any areas where improvements can be made," said Rob Little, RLC English Professor and co-coordinator of the RLC Self-Study Steering Committee.
Comments can be made on-line or in writing. To submit an on-line comment, visitwww.ncahigherlearningcommission.org
and click on "File Third-Party Comments." Written comments should be mailed to: Public Comment on Rend Lake College, Higher Learning Commission, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504.
Comments must be received no later than Oct. 17, 2008. Written comments must be signed and must contain the name and address of the submitting person. Comments cannot be treated as confidential.
Rend Lake College has been accredited since 1969, and following the last evaluation visit in 1999, RLC was granted the maximum 10-year accreditation.
So, what exactly is accreditation?
According to the HLC, voluntary accreditation has two fundamental purposes - quality assurance and institutional and program improvement. Besides assessing formal educational activities, it evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness and relationships with internal and external constituencies.
Accreditation ensures that the education provided by an institution such as Rend Lake College is of high quality and has met the standards of the Higher Learning Commission. Part of the accreditation process involves an extensive self-study prepared by RLC and submitted to the Higher Learning Commission.
There are multiple benefits to accreditation. It demonstrates that Rend Lake College has been reviewed by its peers, assures funding agencies for student loans and financial aid that there is oversight regarding college operations and makes for a smooth transfer of courses to four-year universities.
Since late 2006, three Self-Study Coordinators and a steering committee made up of more than 20 college employees, as well as numerous other faculty, staff and administrators, have evaluated and analyzed college operations and activities in keeping with HLC guidelines. The HLC requires a study of how the college meets five core criteria: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service. The self-study will identify the college's strengths as well as areas in which it can improve.
"The Self-Study Report is the result of three years of hard work by many college employees," Little added. "During the process almost everyone who works here invested some extra time to see to it that this project was completed successfully. Quite a few people gave up weekend and evening time on numerous occasions."