EICC receives highest accreditation marks
When we say we’re THE Community’s College – it’s not just a saying.
It’s a fact.
This fall we even got the report card to prove it, a successful accreditation trifecta – straight A’s from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Iowa Department of Education and the National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
It’s an accomplishment few colleges achieve and an effort that took teamwork and dedication across the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.
“You walk away with a real sense of pride that you work at an institution that’s of great quality and being recognized both nationally and across the state for its education. You can’t help but smile,” said Joan Kindle, Vice Chancellor for Education and Training. “You think, ‘wow that’s really great.’”
The prep work for each accreditation process took years, with each agency reviewing different aspects of the college. NACEP reaccreditation happens every seven years and evaluates the college’s concurrent enrollment offerings.
Meanwhile, the HLC reviewed more than 600 submitted documents and a 35,000-word, evidence-based essay called an assurance argument. While the full HLC reaccreditation process happens every ten years, the college must submit documents demonstrating how we meet HLC standards at the four-year mark.
“It’s a very big undertaking,” said Kindle. “It takes the entire district to do that – all three colleges are involved, the administrative office, the board, the finance office, physical plant, academics inside the classroom, student development, activities, advising and more. It’s a very major review.”
As if that wasn’t enough to take on in one year, the college welcomed a visit from the Iowa Department of Education. The organization visits colleges every five years, with the ten-year mark including a comprehensive visit that incorporates dozens of interviews, material reviews, campus tours and more. As it so happens, an equity visit also fell in this period. That’s where representatives from the Iowa Department of Education evaluate whether the college meets equal access standards.
“The typical things the state looks at is everything the HLC does not concern themselves with,” said Cheryl Welsch, Dean of Curriculum and Accreditation. “They look at faculty qualifications, faculty load, career and technical program reviews, how we use Perkins grants to purchase equipment for our programs, etc. They conduct interviews with faculty, staff and students.
“I think the state was really impressed with how enthusiastic and knowledgeable everyone was,” she said.
Both Kindle and Welsch agree all three accreditation processes falling within the same year is unusual, but receiving top-notch marks from all three organizations at once has been very rewarding.
“It makes it feel like all the preparation and work was so well worth it. I think it’s just made us pay even more attention to what we’re doing. Taking a look at these things helps us remember to be better all the time,” Welsch said.
“It’s really a statement to the public that we had three major accreditations and all three said we’re doing great. That’s definitely not something colleges experience all the time,” Kindle said. “It shows we’re ethical, have quality education, have qualified faculty and staff, and we’re at the top of the class.”