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HLC Reaffirmation

Aug 19, 2014


ONU 2014-15 Self-Study Report

You are invited to review our self-study document! This report is the culmination of two years of commitment and work by our HLC Steering Committee, the almost 60 members of the five Self-Study sub-committees, those who attended the open forum discussions, and those who submitted written feedback regarding the HLC Self-Study Draft this fall. The Self-Study communicates to the Higher Learning Commission and the Site Visit Team all that we have done in the past decade to maintain academic quality and integrity, meet challenges, and seize opportunities.

Understanding Accreditation

In the United States, colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. 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.  Besides assessing formal educational activities, it evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies. The Higher Learning Commission conducts institutional accreditation for degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which is where Ohio Northern is located.

What is the value of accreditation?

Accreditation provides both public certification of acceptable institutional quality and an opportunity and incentive for self-improvement in the accredited institution. The Commission reaches the conclusion that a college or university meets the Criteria only after the institution opens itself to outside examination by experienced evaluators familiar with accrediting requirements and with higher education. The process of accreditation provides the accredited institution with an opportunity for critical self-analysis leading to improvement in quality and for consultation and advice from persons from other institutions.

The Evaluation Process

The Commission provides two programs for maintaining accredited status:  the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) and the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Ohio Northern is under the PEAQ process, which employs a five-step comprehensive evaluation process to determine continued accredited status.

  • The institution engages in a self-study process for approximately two years and prepares a report of its findings in accordance with Commission expectations.
  • The Commission sends an evaluation team of Consultant-Evaluators to conduct a comprehensive visit for continued accreditation and to write a report containing the team’s recommendations.
  • The documents relating to the comprehensive visit are reviewed by a Readers Panel or, in some situations, a Review Committee.
  • A decision-making body takes action on the Reader’s Panel recommendation.
  • In certain circumstances, the Board of Trustees takes the final action.

The Criteria for Accreditation

The Criteria for Accreditation are organized under five major headings. Each Criterion has three elements: Criterion Statement, Core Components, and Examples of Evidence. The Criteria Statements define necessary attributes of an institution accredited by the Commission. An institution must be judged to have met each of the Criteria to merit accreditation. An institution addresses each Core Component as it presents reasonable and representative evidence of meeting a Criterion. The Examples of Evidence illustrate the types of evidence an institution might present in addressing a Core Component.

Visit the Campus Communication Materials section of this webpage to view several short Powerpoint presentations that summarize the criteria.  More of a visual learner?  Go to YouTube and view the video  on the criteria.

Required Materials for the Comprehensive Visit

  1. Self-Study Report: Must be in an electronic pdf format that is suggested to be no more than 200 pages.  The report will contain an overview of the institutional history, the institution’s response to previous challenges, and evidence and evaluation of the Critical and Core Components.
  2. Appendix A:  Optional supporting evidence.  (Concise supporting evidence that is referenced repeatedly in the self-study report.)
  3. Appendix B:  Required supplements.  This includes the institutional snapshot form, the Federal Compliance Materials, and the list of materials in the Resource Room.
  4. The Resource Room.  Increasingly, Resource Rooms are electronic and made available to the team along with the required materials. Resource Rooms may be completely electronic, may be a physical location with hard copies, or may be a combination of both. Resource Rooms should be organized to make it easy for the peer reviewers to find and retrieve materials.
  5. Self-study Supplemental Materials.  All current faculty and staff handbooks, student handbooks, audited financial statements for the two previous years, and institutional catalogs.

The Site Visit

The site visit is scheduled for Feb. 23-25, 2015.  A team of five evaluators will visit the campus for three days. 

Preparing for the Site Visit

ONU began preparations for the self-study document in Summer 2013 by forming an HLC Steering Committee with representation from all areas of campus.  This Steering Committee oversaw the work of five sub-committees, with each sub-committee responsible for addressing one of the five core criteria.  (Criterion Sub-committee Membership List) Institutional Research simultaneously gathered the required elements and additional data materials for the electronic Resource Room.  This fall, the self-study document was reviewed by the various campus constituencies prior to it being submitted in Dec. 2014.


Contact David Crago, Julie Hurtig or Brian Keas in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Campus Communication Materials

The Office of Academic Affairs will be pulling together various materials to help the campus understand the re-affirmation process of HLC.  These will be stored below.

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