SEMO on 'pathway to improvement,' examiners say

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Examiners from the Higher Learning Commission visited Southeast Missouri State University this week to further evaluate the university's ongoing reaccreditation process. At a noontime meeting held Friday at the University Center, the examiners summarized their findings to administration officials and faculty members.

"It's not an easy journey, but Southeast Missouri State is on a pathway to improvement," said Jim Morrison, a commission examiner.

The remark was indicative of the favorable reviews given Southeast's involvement with the commission's Academic Quality Improvement Program, which provides Southeast the opportunity to demonstrate that it has met the commission's reaccreditation guidelines. The program is centered on improvement principles and goal setting, and Morrison told those in attendance that he is pleased with the gains Southeast has made, most notably in the areas of marketing, administration effectiveness and the budget review process.

"I have observed the evidence," he said. "The university has turned its concerns into issues, and has turned its issues into strengths."

Southeast began the reaccreditation process under the Academic Quality Improvement Program's standards in 2006. The visit from the examiners was the last step of fact-finding before the university can be granted reaccreditation in December. The examiners represented the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, the governing body that oversees accreditation for Southeast and other universities and colleges in the Midwest.

The university had spent the spring and summer preparing for the visit, with each of its divisions and departments producing reports that were submitted to the commission before their arrival. Dr. David Starrett, dean of the College of University Studies and Southeast's liaison with the Higher Learning Commission, praised the work done by the faculty and administration.

"We are all aware of the effort you made when your time was likely needed elsewhere," he told those assembled. "For that I thank all of you."

Starrett also said that maintaining accreditation is vital for the continuing viability of Southeast. Without it being granted, it would be difficult for the university to provide required services for students and to have a professional and dedicated faculty and staff. However, he is confident that it will all go according to plan.

"There's always an on-site visit, and, in a sense, it's a formality," he said.

A decision reaffirming Southeast's accreditation is expected no later than Dec. 10. Southeast was last reaccredited in 2000.

klewis@semissourian.com

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