Last Wednesday, the John Carroll University community received notice that the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools had placed the University on Notice. While the HLC reaffirmed John Carroll as an accredited school, it also identified several problem areas that need to be corrected before its next visit in 2016. One of the HLC’s main concerns was the lack of information about student academic performance gathered over time, including during school and after graduation.
Since the information was released to the public, the John Carroll community has responded in an overwhelmingly negative fashion. Some students fear that their degrees will now be meaningless, while many more lack any understanding about the consequences of this status update. Before community members draw any conclusions about what this news means, they should consult the sources available to them. These sources include the John Carroll University website and the HLC’s website, where extensive explanations have been posted.
Furthermore, John Carroll should recognize this as humbling experience and a call to action. Although many students and staff members think highly of the University, it is important to realize the gravity of the situation and the necessity to follow HLC guidelines. Failure to meet these standards threatens the overall credibility of the institution and risks lowering JCU’s status further. The University clearly has not kept up to date with the longitudinal data collection, so this warning should motivate it to follow up on student learning objectives after students graduate.
Ensuring accreditation should be a primary concern of the John Carroll community. Working toward this goal requires redoubled efforts in recording longitudinal data and meeting our student learning objectives. By doing so, community members will able to experience fully the benefits of an accredited university.