March 4, 2021 Rich Rezler
The Higher Learning Commission, one of the nation’s six regional accreditors for institutions of higher education, has continued Washtenaw Community College’s accreditation through 2029-30.
The HLC’s “seal of approval” assures prospective students, parents, employers and other stakeholders that the college offers nationally recognized, quality programs and learning experiences.
“Being granted a 10-year continued accreditation is a tremendous accomplishment and it reflects on the work, dedication and commitment of every single WCC faculty and staff member,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca.
“Institutional accreditation is so important not just as a recognizable mark of quality, but to ensure our students can transfer and receive Federal financial aid. It takes an entire campus to ensure we meet the criteria for quality expected by the HLC.”
The HLC’s announcement came after the completion of a far-reaching internal review of institutional effectiveness and outcomes, and reaffirms that the college meets the HLC’s rigorous criteria. The efforts of that internal review were led by a committee of WCC faculty, staff and administrators.
The initial reaccreditation visits took place in April 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the college was transitioning to virtual teaching and work. WCC was one of the first institutions to conduct its reaffirmation visits primarily in a virtual format.
“We were true pioneers in being among the first to lead a fully virtual visit that matched the scope of an on-campus visit in content and engagement,” Bellanca said. “Our six peer reviewers were clear that WCC faculty and staff are passionate about our mission, our students and our work.”
The review team’s chairperson, Dr. Billie Unger, visited campus in person in October 2020 as part of a brief verification visit required for institutions that had to shift to virtual visits and confirmed the team’s recommendation that WCC had successfully met all HLC Criteria and Core Components.
WCC Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Accreditation Julie Morrison said the process included several years of preparation and documentation.
“The campus came together for a successful, comprehensive visit with both the college and review team demonstrating remarkable flexibility and innovation,” Morrison said.
“We are proud that, even as one of the first colleges to have a fully virtual visit, we were able to mirror an on-campus visit with faculty, staff, students and Board of Trustees members actively engaged in meetings.”
The HLC is an independent corporation and one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.