Online class tells ‘NAU story’

NAu story

Two student leaders are the voices behind a new web class that celebrates NAU’s accomplishments and shares the many ways the university serves the state and region.

Junior education major Ariel Hawkins and senior exercise science major Matt Spillsbury are the virtual tour guides for the “NCA Self-Study” class, in which more than 51,000 students, faculty, staff and affiliates were automatically enrolled in last week in Vista.

The class is being used as a tool to prepare the campus community for the October site visit by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The NCA visit is part of NAU’s reaccreditation process, which occurs every 10 years as a way of ensuring that the university is meeting the expectations outlined by the accrediting agency.

“Learning how NAU has evolved since its last accreditation self-study in 1997 can give us all a better understanding of the university’s mission, its accomplishments and its future direction,” said Becky Butcher, who developed the class and is a research specialist for the self-study team. “The class gives people a sense of who we are and where we’re going as a university.”

A condensed version of the class takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and provides an overview of the university, captures the campus organization and emphasizes the significance of accreditation for a higher learning institution. The full version includes more technical information on the accreditation process, which Butcher said can be helpful for those working in areas that must accredit their own programs. The full version can be completed in about 90 minutes.

Butcher said the class is another way to include the campus community in the reaccreditation process.

“It’s important for people to know that universities do have to answer to somebody,” she said. “That’s what this is all about, the accountability of institutions.”

As an incentive, participants in either version of the class who score 100 percent on a brief quiz will be eligible to win weekly prizes, including gift certificates to Buster’s, Picasso Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, Best Buy, Grand Canyon Railway and others.

Information about the NCA Self-Study process is available online.