Sessions planned on college accreditation process

By Joshua Phelps
The Scene staff

St. Louis Community College must go through an accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission every 10 years.

Commission representatives will visit STLCC campuses next year. Employees spend months preparing.

“HLC is one of seven regional accreditors across the United States,” said STLCC team co-chair Joyce Johnson, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. “An institution has to be accredited by one of those seven agencies in order to offer students financial aid and other signs of quality.”

Leading the charge on the Forest Park campus is counselor Brenda French, who is campaign liaison.

She will inform students, faculty and staff about the accreditation process during two-hour sessions on Oct. 9, 10 and 11 in the Highlander Lounge.

One focus is the commission’s five criteria: 1) mission; 2) integrity, ethical and responsible conduct; 3) teaching and learning, quality, resources and support; 4) teaching and learning, evaluation and improvement; and 5) resources, planning and institutional effectiveness.

STLCC’s graduation rate is about 13 percent, according to statistics on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. That figure won’t go against the college, French said, as long as it’s providing students with quality education.

“We are writing a 35,000-word response to HLC, explaining all the things we are doing to ensure we are a quality institution,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to boil those down to a few talking points.

“Yes, graduation is important. Student learning is important. Having buildings with good roofs so they don’t leak is important.  Making sure that we have scholarships is important. All of those things is what our site visitors will be looking for.”

French encourages all students to stop by the Highlander Lounge to listen and get informed on what’s going on with the accreditation process.

“We want to educate students about the HLC,” French said.

Hours for the sessions are 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11.

Afterward, French encourages students to fill out an anonymous opinion survey that will be emailed on Nov. 6. It’s not meant for complaints, rather suggestions for improvement.

“It informs the team of the student experience,” French said.