In the spring of 2009, the Higher Learning Commission reaccredited Grinnell College and the College's status as a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools was renewed. Grinnell's next comprehensive evaluation for accreditation is scheduled for 2018-19.
Grinnell has, since 1913, voluntarily sought and received accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA). Every ten years, the College seeks renewal of its accreditation through a process involving a self-study, site visit, and report by the representatives of the Higher Learning Commission.
The accreditation process examines the College's ability to fulfill our mission, leading to greater understanding of the College's strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement. The Higher Learning Commission evaluates institutions on the basis of five criteria and core components (PDF).
Grinnell's Self-Study with a Special Emphasis
For the 2008 accreditation review, the College proposed and received authorization from the HLC to conduct a special emphasis self-study focused on a question central to our mission: How can the College reinvigorate our traditional commitment to train leaders in public service and social justice as we enter the 21st century? (see excerpts from the Memorandum of Understanding PDF).
In January of 2007, the College formed a Steering Committee to lead the process. The Steering Committee began its process by reviewing and discussing the special emphasis question, the Higher Learning Commission's criteria, the 1998 accreditation documents, the College's governing documents with an emphasis on the mission statement, and our own perceptions of the College. From our initial discussions, we formulated a special emphasis diagram (PDF) which we used to organize the various topics that we envisioned we would address in our self study. We shared that diagram with several of our key constituencies who helped us revise it.
The Steering Committee identified and sought to engage many of the College's constituencies. In our work, we were guided by a phrase from the mission statement that our work should “serve the common good.” Mirroring a typical academic research project, we started with the various self studies that the College had produced over the last ten years, including Institutional Research studies, previous administrative reports, and departmental and divisional reviews. We found, however, that we had questions related to the special emphasis that required new data to address. We gathered that data by interviewing several faculty members (see chapter 8 of the 2008 Self-Study PDF). We also created and administered a staff survey and a student and alumnae/i survey (PDF). The results of the interviews and the surveys were discussed by various groups of constituencies (see chapter 8 of the 2008 Self-Study PDF).
In September of 2008, an evaluation team from the Higher Learning Commission visited the College and their findings are documented in the 2008 Site Visit Report. The Higher Learning Commission approved the College for continued accreditation at the HLC's February 9, 2009 board meeting. Representatives from the Steering Committee were invited to give a presentation (PDF) on the College's accreditation process at the NCA/HLC's 2009 Annual Meeting.