After being cited during their accreditation process, East Central College (ECC) is setting a plan in motion to overcome deficiencies in their system.
In a recent letter, along with an interview with The Rolla Daily News, ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer addressed these concerns and explained what the college is doing to move forward, stressing the ongoing strength of the institution’s programs.
Dr. Bauer explained that as part of the college’s ongoing accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the institution is regularly reviewed and judged on certain criteria. During a recent visit by an HLC team, concerns were raised about the institution’s efficiency in their efforts to systematically improve performance.
Within the accreditation process, according to Dr. Bauer, there are several criteria that need to be met in order to be in compliance. Each of these areas has several sub-components, and if any of these are not met, the broader criteria is considered out of compliance. The criteria where East Central College was found lacking was in their collection of data to be used for future improvement. This involves collecting data on student retention, persistence and completion of programs. Colleges are also judged on their methods of obtaining this data, according to the Higher Learning Commission’s website.
Initially, ECC was found to be out of compliance, giving them a recommendation of probation. However upon further review, the college was simply put on notice, meaning they met this criteria, but with room for improvement.
“Even after the board’s recommendation it’s important to recognize a couple of things. Most importantly is that our accreditation is maintained,” said Dr. Bauer. “Sometimes there’s confusion whether the institution lost accreditation, that’s not the case at all. The accreditation is maintained, the quality of our programs is strong. Students can participate in financial aid, student’s credits will transfer, all of that remains in place.”
In order to improve in the designated area and make the systematic improvements the HLC wants to see, Dr. Bauer said the school is developing several courses of action.
The first is the creation of a full-time position, whose duty will be to monitor the ongoing efforts of the institution, coordinating them and keeping the school on track for improvement. Dr. Bauer said other institutions have similar positions.
Additionally, the college has adopted what Dr. Bauer described as a “shared governance policy,” establishing a governance board that obtains broad input from throughout the institution as they make decision, involving faculty and staff in the process.
“As we continue the process of improving our already strong institution, we will still actively recruit, enroll and educate students every day,” said Dr. Bauer. “Incoming and current ECC students can be confident in the quality of their education and degree or certificate.”