HLC directly impacts students

Morgan Holloway

What if the paper that was received at graduation meant absolutely nothing?

On Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26, the Higher Learning Commission will be coming to Washburn’s campus. The Higher Learning Commission is an accrediting body for the university as a whole. Like the School of Business and the School of Nursing have accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission is an accreditation for the school overall.

Eric Grospitch, vice president of student life, explains why this is important for the campus.

“In order to offer financial aid and other programs, we have to be an accredited institution. You want us to be able to offer financial aid but you also want your degree to mean something. Having an accredited degree from an accredited institution raises its value,” said Grospitch.

When the HLC accreditors come to campus, they are looking to hear from students about their classroom experiences. There will be three open forms held, where the HLC accreditors want to hear from faculty, staff and students.

The first session will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday, March 25 in the Kansas Room on the third level of the Memorial Union. There will be another forum held directly after the previous one in the same location from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. The last session will be held from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 26  at the same location.

Aside from the forum, the HLC accreditors may be stopping students while walking to classes to ask them about Washburn’s core values, mission and the motto. Students can find this information online, in the Washburn planners and on posters around campus.

Zac Surritt, student body president, discusses the HLC evaluation further.

“First off, we’re going to get accredited again. Washburn, in the past, has gotten a pretty good bill of health. We can expect at most, a couple of points of improvement but we wouldn’t be a healthy environment if there were never any points of improvement,” said Surritt.

Monday, March 18, Washburn University held a forum at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center to talk with staff, faculty, students and the community about their experiences and the work Washburn can do to create a more inclusive campus.

Danielle Demsey-Swopes, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, explains the impact this will have on the HLC.

“I don’t think it will necessarily affect their review of the institution. I think they’ll be very interested in what our plans are going forward and how what we do regarding diversity inclusion in a classroom will impact education overall,” said Dempsey-Swopes.

Demsey-Swopes also believes that the HLC will be interested in whether on not students get that ability to appreciate diversity, be inclusive, be better leaders and better communicators during their time at Washburn.

“All those skills that our employers are looking for when you leave here, how are we delivering that to them in the four years and then, how are we assessing how well we’re delivering it and making changes?” said Demsey-Swopes.

For more information regarding the Higher Learning Commission, there will be tabling in the main level of the Memorial Union Thursday, March 21 and Friday, March 22.