Mid-Plains Community College received formal notification in December that the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) had voted to continue the accreditation of MPCC with the next Reaffirmation of Accreditation to take place in 2020-21.
The Academic Quality Improvement program (AQIP) used by MPCC since late 2008 is one of several pathways leading to accreditation with the HLC. It is based on principles of continuous quality improvement, and its various processes and requirements are designed to assist institutions in achieving quality improvement, along with reaffirming the institution’s accredited status with the Commission once every AQIP cycle.
In AQIP, the formal procedure culminating in Reaffirmation of Accreditation occurs every seven years. In the Reaffirmation procedure, an AQIP Review Panel on Reaffirmation reviews each institution's cumulative record of activity and judges whether it has documented that it meets the HLC’s five Criteria for Accreditation. The Panel also recommends whether the institution should be permitted to continue participating in AQIP.
The notification came as good news to College staff, faculty and administrators.
“The timing of the notification was perfect. After a successful fall semester, it sent the staff to the holiday break with this reward for all of their hard work since the AQIP program was adopted in 2008,” said MPCC President Ryan Purdy.
According to materials provided by the Higher Learning Commission who created the program, AQIP was developed and launched in 1999 with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It has grown steadily from its original 14 institutions in 2000-2001 to more than 180 in 2007.
Based upon principles common to high performance organizations, AQIP draws from a variety of initiatives and programs – Total Quality Management (TQM), continuous improvement (CI), Six Sigma, ISO 9000 registration, state and national quality awards, and others. Many of AQIP’s quality principles such as focusing on key processes, basing decisions on data, decentralizing control, and empowering faculty and staff to make the decisions that directly affect their work, have long been traditions in higher education, although their form and the breadth of their practice in particular institutions may vary greatly. Other components such as systems thinking and stakeholder focus appear at first to be new to academia, but turn out to be in close alignment with the values and behaviors of higher educators.
According to Purdy, much of the vision within the AQIP program is to insure that the college works within a “continuous process” that focuses on better teaching and learning strategies and new initiatives and the future direction of MPCC.
“Mid-Plains Community College is committed to continuous quality improvement in all areas of college operations,” he said “The AQIP accreditation model requires the improvement process to be continuously focused upon through the use of action projects. This Reaffirmation of Accreditation assures MPCC that we are making strides in the right direction. It serves as a final step in this initial seven-year cycle and marks the beginning of the next cycle.”