Colorado State University seeks reaccreditation every 10 years. The path to accreditation is a long and arduous journey, and CSU is about to hit a critical milestone as it enters the final stages of compiling a comprehensive self-study for 2024 reaccreditation.
The evaluation process for reaccreditation is rigorous by design, and CSU is required to demonstrate it operates at the highest standards in its educational commitment. CSU’s self-study report is due this summer to its accrediting institution, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The next phase will be on-site visits by an HLC peer-review team in September. CSU’s reaccreditation process is led by Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness under the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
“We have an incredibly strong core team guiding our process in collaboration with several work groups and executive leadership,” Interim Provost Janice Nerger said. “Vice Provost for Planning and Effectiveness Laura Jensen serves as our Planning Team chair, and she brings not only her data analysis and assessment expertise but also her invaluable depth of institutional and accreditation process knowledge from our 2014 reaccreditation, which she helped lead.”
Capturing 10 years of accomplishments
Since July 2022, six work groups have investigated and reported on the university’s operations regarding specific criteria and/or subcriteria required for accredited status to be granted by HLC. While input and evidence are still being gathered from campus and community stakeholders, the Planning Team — Jensen, Special Advisor to the Provost Mary Pedersen and Presidential Fellow for Accreditation Susan Matthews — is compiling all the findings into a single narrative known as an Assurance Argument.
The Assurance Argument is CSU’s evidence of compliance with HLC’s accreditation requirements. It is the culmination of several years of intensive examination by faculty and staff throughout the university and will be submitted to HLC this summer in preparation for the peer-review campus visit in September.
“The Assurance Argument is capturing 10 years of accomplishments in one document,” Matthews said. “It is impressive, and it’s a compelling story to tell, but we could go on for chapters of flagship examples of things that have been accomplished at Colorado State in the last decade. Some of the challenge is picking out the ones to showcase and knowing that once the peer-review team gets on campus, they’ll be exposed to additional information.”
The on-site visit, Assurance Argument and other documents and reviews, like the Federal Compliance Review and Student Opinion Survey, comprise the Comprehensive Evaluation materials used by HLC to fill out its final report and decide whether to reaffirm CSU’s accredited status. The university will be notified of HLC’s reaffirmation decision sometime during spring 2024.
Faculty, staff, student and stakeholder engagement has driven the reaccreditation process. Alongside quality assurance, the purpose of reaccreditation is to perpetually develop CSU’s academic offerings using feedback from the campus community.
“Involvement from the CSU community and outside constituents is critical to the integrity of the accreditation process,” Jensen said. “It is only through these voices that we gain an honest understanding of our strengths and opportunities for improvement. By providing multiple ways to be involved, we hope to empower the community to be part of the process and share their perspectives.”
To get involved in reaccreditation, visit the How to Participate section of CSU’s Accreditation webpage to submit comments through the feedback form and see opportunities for engagement. Interested individuals can also reach out to any CSU employee council or email Jensen, Pedersen or Matthews.
Accreditation is a federally recognized third-party assurance of the quality of CSU’s educational offerings based on national standards. This university-wide, 10-year cycle of internal and external assessments, reports and reviews confirms the value of a CSU degree to students, other universities, licensing bodies and prospective employers while fostering a culture of continuous self-review and improvement within the university.