The John Carroll University Student Union held an open forum on Thursday, March 19, for the community’s questions regarding the accreditation of the University in future years. Provost and Academic Vice President Jeanne Colleran and Vice President of Enrollment Brian Williams led a discussion hoping to ease the minds of the undergraduate and graduate students and staff in attendance about the recent HLC news.
The Higher Learning Commission is the regional accrediting body and is responsible for accrediting JCU. The University first achieved accreditation from the HLC in 1922 and has remained accredited for 93 years. JCU received a letter on March 10 alerting the University it was on notice. Despite being placed on notice, the University remains accredited.
Once JCU is able to show it is meeting standards the HLC has asked for, the notice will be removed.
At the open forum, Colleran and Williams were open to answering the questions from the community. Colleran made it clear to all students that she had “full confidence” that the notice will be removed and this will only be a speedbump.
“This is work, but this is doable work, said Colleran. “This is not a sanction that should make anyone anxious about the continued future of JCU, about your future as students, your transfer credit [and] your employment possibilities.”
Everyone in attendance candidly asked hard-hitting questions. Several students asked questions about the future of JCU, the action being taken and if the quality of the academia will remain the same.
Junior Kevin Gaul asked, “What does this mean for the future of JCU?”
In response to Gaul, Colleran said, “It means that in two years, we will be off notice and we will be a stronger institution, and we will have as good of a reputation as always – if not better. It means for two years into the future and forever, we will be doing more intense data collection and strategic planning.”
Freshman Robert Hellman raised a question, saying, “The issue of program quality was brought up. I was curious as to why?”
Colleran responded to Hellman, saying, “It means that at the graduate levels we have learning outcomes in a few programs that are the same as the undergraduate level. It won’t be an issue after some things appear on the website before the end of the semester.”
Sophomore Maria Piña also brought up the issue of how this situation will affect students planning to attend or apply to graduate school in the coming years.
“Being on notice, the University’s accreditation still remains affirmed. Will it affect transfer credit? [If it does] we will call that school and we will call the registrars at those schools to make sure it did not affect your transfer credit. If we have to call a school and defend your future, we will do that,” said Williams.
After the meeting, the student community had both positive and negative reactions toward the forum.
“Many students had their questions addressed and their concerns alleviated,” said student body president Cole Hassay. “In my opinion, we are better off for having had this conversation.”
Sophomore Shannon Poppe expressed a different attitude about the forum.
“Overall, I would have liked the information of the situation explained in detail that is understandable by the college student, rather than vague answers or allusions to similar issues,” said Poppe. “This is what is happening to our University and we want to know why.”
Vice President of Communications for Student Union, freshman Adrienne Metzger, said, “I felt that the meeting was a great way for the University to directly answer student’s longing questions and to clear the air on what is really happening. I feel relieved, along with most students, knowing that my credits will still be fully accredited.”
Students who were unable to attend the meeting or did, but still have questions or concerns, can visit http://sites.jcu.edu/accreditation for more information and updates on progress. There is also a further explanation of what the HLC expects of the University, and a form where anyone can send their questions to be answered.