University of St. Thomas was first accredited by the North Central Association, now known as the Higher Learning Commission, in 1916. The last accreditation evaluation site visit was in fall 2003. St. Thomas is preparing for its next reaccreditation site visit in fall 2013. Leading up to the site visit, the university will engage in an in-depth, self-study process.

Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission shows our commitment to our students and community and that we are accountable for the education we offer.  The self-study process will allow the institution to examine key issues, highlight our strengths, address our challenges and look for ways to improve. The goal of the self-study is to help us identify how we can continue to achieve our mission.

In preparation for the reaccreditation effort, Dr. Susan Huber, executive vice president and chief academic officer, asked me to serve as the interim accreditation liaison officer. The focus of my position is the upcoming Higher Learning Commission accreditation process (see Dec. 16, 2010, Bulletin Today article) that culminates with the 2013 site visit by the evaluation team.

There is much to do to in preparation for the site visit and evaluation. Key in the process will the role of the two faculty co-chairs. They will be closely involved in the process over the next two and a half years. I am writing to ask for volunteers for this important role. As you consider this role, key tasks over the next few years include:

  • Attend the annual Higher Learning Commission meeting and self-study workshop in April.
  • Regular meetings with the accreditation liaison officer.
  • Create structures for the self-study and site visit.
  • Create the accreditation timeline.
  • Coordinate large and small groups.
  • Regular communication with stakeholders.
  • Work with subcommittees and writing teams.
  • Write, revise and edit communication and the self-study.
  • Coordinate and support the site visit in fall 2013.

I invite interested faculty to contact me directly through e-mail at LLPayne@stthomas.edu or phone at (651) 962-6724 to discuss this role.