Rend Lake College needs to know what you think. The Ina-based community college is asking for comments and thoughts from its constituents about its mission 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, 2008. It is one of six accrediting agencies in the nation which provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis.
As part of the accreditation process, RLC is conducting an extensive self-study of its programs and operations. One facet of the self-study is a review and revision of the college's mission statement.
Rend Lake College is seeking thoughts from the public on this revised mission statement:
"Rend Lake College is committed to providing educational opportunities across cultural and economic boundaries to the diverse student population that we serve. Through all our educational and community service programs, we are committed to every graduate demonstrating the fundamental skills of effective critical thinking, problem solving, oral communication and written communication. In fulfilling its mission, Rend Lake College will be an active leader in our region's development. The success of our students is our own success.
"Institutional Outcomes: Rend Lake College has adopted four essential learner outcomes, fundamental skills stressed by the institution, that all graduating students should possess. They are as follows:
"Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the self-directed and reflective process of understanding, evaluating and solving problems.
"Problem-Solving: The ability to resolve computational problems.
"Oral Communication: The ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through verbal and non-verbal language.
"Written Communication: The ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through written language."
The comment period runs through Nov. 15, 2007. RLC seeks comments from students from both RLC and in-district high schools, parents, interested taxpayers, local business and industry and anyone else with an interest in Rend Lake College.
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.