In an interview with Provost and Academic Vice President Jeanne Colleran, she addressed why John Carroll University didn’t provide the data the Higher Learning Commission sought, why the data didn’t meet the HLC’s standards and also identified areas of improvement the University is working on.
Colleran filled the role of provost and academic vice president on Aug. 4, 2014 – in the midst of the HLC’s in-depth evaluation of the University. The JCU community stepped up and helped her overcome the challenges thrown her way.
Why wasn’t JCU prepared?
Some members of the JCU community have asked why the University wasn’t prepared for the HLC’s request for longitudinal data, assessment data and learning goal outcomes. According to Colleran, this process has changed throughout the years, and was new to the University.
“The HLC instructs us to have a mature assessment program,” explained Colleran. “When I was a young faculty member, we didn’t talk about this. But, in the era of accountability, federal oversight and the department of education, the requirements of demonstrating that your institution is showing evidence that it’s producing the kind of education it says it will produce is more and more important.”
According to Colleran, this is the perspective of the HLC. The University is now centralizing the activity, and charging two people with supervision and oversight. The first will be Director of Assessment Todd Bruce. The second will be a director of assessment in accreditation.
This person will focus on institutional effectiveness and accreditation. In the past, multiple faculty members filled this role.
The University will also hire additional deans in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Boler School of Business who have an understanding of assessment and accreditation.
Identifying learning outcomes
The HLC expressed that the University didn’t provide clear learning outcomes.
Now, the University has solidified nine academic learning outcomes and four learning outcomes in student affairs.
“Through the provost council, we have produced the set of learning outcomes for the full experience,” explained Colleran. “Father Niehoff has already approved them. These learning outcomes take the history and objects of a Jesuit education and turn them into statements you can assess.”
In the HLC’s evaluation, it identified a communication problem at the University.
“I’ve been here for 27 years and everyone says there’s a communication problem. People say it in other institutions as well,” Colleran said. “It’s kind of a baggy term.”
According to Colleran, successful communication at JCU entails collaboration and consultation.
“If we put together a newsletter every week that details absolutely everything going on at the University, we would be communicating,” said Colleran. “However, people wouldn’t necessarily feel like they were being consulted or that they were collaborating. Our interest in inspecting every possible way that we can to make the communication is truly two ways.”
This is one of the reasons why the University restructured the College of Arts & Sciences.
“We have more associate deans in the College of Arts and Sciences so they’ll be able to work with the individual divisions,” explained Colleran.
Colleran’s message to JCU
Going forward, Colleran reassures the community that the University will remain accredited.
“Our quality is excellent. Our present students are inspiring. Our alums our successful,” said Colleran. “The education experience is distinctive, especially the way we care for our students and enable their success.”
Colleran says that this issue will pass, and the University will move forward in providing students with the best education possible.
“We’ll continue to do what we do with great enthusiasm and great commitment and dedication, which is to open as many doors as we can for every student who comes to us.”