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Higher Learning Commission team to visit campus Feb. 27, 28

The University community will welcome some important guests this week, as representatives from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools arrive for a much-anticipated site visit.

If the Monday, Feb. 27, and Tuesday, Feb. 28, visit is UT’s test of whether it exemplifies its mission of improving the human condition on a path to excellence in education, Dr. Dorothea Sawicki is confident the University will make the grade.

“We’ve worked extremely hard for nearly four years to prepare,” said Sawicki, professor of microbiology-immunology, associate dean and vice chancellor of graduate health science, and co-chair of UT’s HLC self-study steering committee. “The process has identified some solid accomplishments faculty, staff and students can feel really good about, as well as areas that need additional focus. This has provided UT with an invaluable opportunity for continuous improvement.”

The HLC team will review UT’s success at meeting five key criteria, as documented in its self-study report available at utoledo.edu/accreditation/pdf/selfstudy.pdf.
The criteria are:

• Criterion I: Mission and Integrity;

• Criterion II: Planning for the Future;

• Criterion III: Student Learning and Effective Teaching;

• Criterion IV: Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge; and

• Criterion V: Engagement and Service.

Meeting the criteria is essential for UT’s continued accreditation from the HLC, which affects faculty, staff and students in the following ways:

• Quality education: Accredited colleges and universities deliver quality educational programs.

• Financial aid: Accredited schools receive federal student financial aid funds.

• Transfer: Most colleges and universities accept transfer credits only from accredited schools.

• Graduate school: Most graduate programs accept only students with degrees from accredited schools.

• Tuition assistance: Employers are more likely to endorse and reimburse tuition for courses taken at an accredited school.

During the site visit, a series of forums on Health Science and Main campuses will be offered as opportunities for faculty, staff and students to participate.

Dr. Thomas Sharkey, associate professor of marketing and co-chair of the HLC self-study steering committee, said the events planned for the two-day site visit would be directed by the commission visit team as it seeks to gain further details about information in the self-study report.

“The evaluation team has a mountain of detailed information from the self-study report,” Sharkey said. “The team’s interest during the forums will, essentially, be to verify that information.”

Since they may be asked to expand on the self-study report, Sharkey said those who attend the forums should be familiar with it. Browsing UT’s HLC website at utoledo.edu/accreditation may be helpful, as well.

The HLC team will meet briefly with members of UT’s senior leadership Feb. 29 to offer preliminary comments.

More detailed and final conclusions will arrive within the next few months and into the summer.

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