NAU earns high praise from accrediting agency

It’s worth noting…
The review team singled out a number of accomplishments and practices at NAU deserving of recognition, including:

its commitment to student success and the outstanding work done through cross-university partnerships by the Gateway Student Success Center
a strong and pervasive sense of engagement with multiple external constituencies for which extended education activities are central
careful and long-term management of its fiscal, capital and human resources to achieve its strategic plan
the focus on student learning advanced by the Cline Library staff

Northern Arizona University received numerous accolades and a strong recommendation for continued accreditation in a report from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

The final report released last week was the result of the commission’s October site visit to NAU as part of the university’s accreditation renewal process, a standard practice that occurs every 10 years as a way of ensuring that degree-granting educational institutions are meeting the expectations outlined by the accrediting agency. The NCA has accredited NAU since 1930.

Vice Provost Karen Pugliesi, who is the institutional liaison to the NCA and served for more than two years as the self-study coordinator for the comprehensive review, said the assessment team’s report offers “stunning” praise for the institution and affirms that NAU is committed to student learning and student success.

“It’s very positive, to say the least, but not at all surprising,” Pugliesi said. “Our own self-study documents what the university has accomplished over the last decade and clearly outlines what we need to do to. The team report is an external affirmation that what we’re doing is likely to bring us success.”

In its report summary, the review team said NAU has clearly progressed along many fronts since its last site visit in 1997.

“NAU…has proactively and effectively responded to the challenge of differentiated missions among the state’s higher education institutions with a justifiable sense of pride,” the summary states. “It has been highly creative and strategic with its use of resources. Our interactions across the institution have revealed a strong sense of collaboration and an unusually rich sense of community among all of its constituents…NAU demonstrates a remarkable commitment to student success.”

The university was judged on five criteria: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service. The review team said NAU met the core components for accreditation in all areas. No follow-up visits are necessary, nor is any additional information required by the commission.

NAU President John Haeger said the university should pause to celebrate and recognize all who contributed to such a successful outcome, including the self-study team, the NCA steering committee, the various task forces and individuals who participated in accreditation meetings, and staff, faculty, students and community partners.

“We should certainly take this as confirmation that we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

The next step is for the report to be reviewed by the Institutional Actions Council, a panel of consultant evaluators, which will then make its formal recommendation for NAU’s accreditation renewal to the commission’s board of trustees in June.

NAU is slated for its next comprehensive accreditation renewal in 2016-2017.

The review team’s full report is available online, as is a report summary.

For information on the accreditation process, visit NAU’s Institutional Accreditation web page.