Accreditation work in progress as Northwestern prepares for 2014 site visit

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Accreditation work in progress as Northwestern prepares for 2014 site visit

November 15, 2012

 Mission Statement

Northwestern Oklahoma State University is in the process of preparing for the next Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association accreditation review, which occurs every 10 years.

In the spring 2014, a consultant-evaluation team will visit Northwestern.

Currently, members of the campus community are involved in a self-study where committees are comprised of students, faculty, staff and administrators. All of these individuals are studying the institution to learn what the university is doing well, areas that can be improved and how to best plan for the institution's future.

The importance of this accreditation is vital to the longevity of the university. Financial aid funding, government funding, and student transfers, etc., are dependent upon a successful accreditation review of the university.

Accreditation allows the university to recruit students, receive funding and allows students to be accepted into professional schools, like medical school for instance.

“Accreditation is an important validation of the University’s commitment to it students,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president.

“The accreditation process is a healthy one as it causes us to examine ourselves to determine what we do well and what areas need improvement.”

During the strategic planning process, a committee developed new vision and mission statements for the university.

Northwestern’s new mission and vision statements will be placed around campus and used in strategic planning aspects.

The new mission statement is “Northwestern Oklahoma State University provides quality educational and cultural opportunities to learners with diverse needs by cultivating ethical leadership and service, critical thinking and fiscal responsibility.”

Northwestern’s new vision is “Northwestern aspires to be a vibrant innovative regional University of choice whose students, faculty, staff, and alumni succeed and lead in their academic, professional, cultural and service endeavors.”

There also are five main criteria that are assessed. They include mission; integrity – ethical and responsible conduct; teaching and learning – quality resources and support; teaching and learning – evaluation and improvement; and resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

Dr. Jesse Schroeder, assistant professor of mass communication, serves as the self-study coordinator for the accreditation review.

“Nearly everyone on campus is involved in this process,” Schroeder said.

“Many committees and sub-committees have been created to review every aspect of university operations. Students and all other university constituents will, at some point, be involved in this accreditation. The self-study is very beneficial for the university because it allows us to see not only where we are excelling, but what areas we can improve in as well.”

The Commission has developed resources for individuals to better understand the role of accreditation in U.S. higher education.

Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation.

An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria.

“Northwestern’s last strategic plan aligns with the self-study and accreditation process,” Schroeder said.

“Through this effort it allows us to better achieve our mission and goals.”

“I have every confidence in Dr. Schroeder and the members of the steering committee in guiding us through a successful accreditation process,” Cunningham said.

To learn more about Northwestern’s self-study, visit