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Summarized Accreditation Criteria For NCA 2010

Criterion One: Mission and Integrity

Fundamental to the Higher Learning Commission's (HLC) capacity to make organization-specific judgments is the clarity of the organization's stated mission. An organization's definition of integrity must be shaped by the values it affirms for itself as it defines its roles with its multiple constituencies. The Higher Learning Commission points out that all other Criteria relate in one way or another to this Criterion.

Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future

The HLC explains that the accreditation process has always been understood to say something about the future of the accredited organization. In the past, the affirmation of an organization's future rested heavily on judgments about how the organization had handled change in the past and on the health of planning processes. This Criterion continues to weigh those variables but adds significantly to what is understood to be the challenge of confronting the future in this new century. Perhaps the greatest challenge is to articulate how this campus needs to position itself to successfully confront and embrace a volatile and rapidly changing future environment.

Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching

With the realization that the true test of teaching is the learning achieved by students, the HLC has shifted its emphasis from process to the evaluation of evidence. The evidence also must show that results of the learning and teaching are directly related to the educational mission stated by the organization.

Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

The HLC believes that organizational support for creativity and knowledge discovery involves the commitment of funds but it also involves providing a supportive environment when it foresees the ethical and moral implications of various approaches to acquiring, discovering, and applying knowledge. The organization should model the responsible use of knowledge.

Criterion Five: Engagement and Service

The term "engagement" stems from the realization that the academy can learn from its constituencies. While we continue to serve these constituencies in many ways and we reach out to share valuable knowledge and skills, we also must engage as equal partners to effectively learn from our many constituencies and so that we may more directly connect our interactions with community needs. We must also understand how internal and external constituencies value the services the UA provides.

Cross-Cutting Themes as a Context for Evaluation

The HLC values the four cross-cutting themes of orientation to the future, focus on learning, connectedness (internally and externally), and distinctiveness.

  • The Future-Oriented Organization:
    Engages in planning; is driven by the mission; understands social and economic change; focuses on the future of constituents; and integrates new technology.

  • The Learning-Focused Organization:
    Assesses student learning; supports learning; supports scholarship; creates the capacity for life-long learning; and strengthens organizational learning.

  • The Connected Organization:
    Serves the common good; creates a culture of service; collaborates; and engages in healthy internal communication.

  • The Distinctive Organization:
    Has an unambiguous mission; appreciates diversity; is accountable; is self-reflective; and is committed to improvement.

The University of Arizona