The Higher Learning Commission’s re-accreditation process is underway for the 2013-2014 school year, and teams are assembled to begin evaluating the school based on five categories.
The Mission Team, which is led by Michael Martin, associate professor of history, and Lee Frazer, assistant professor of adventure education, will evaluate whether the mission statement is an accurate representation of the school.
“This is going to afford us the opportunity to examine the mission statement and see if we are holding to it, or if we need to revisit it or rewrite it,” Martin said. “Let’s take that opportunity.”
The mission statement, which can be located on the FLC website, outlines the goals and values that the school upholds.
A very important aspect of the mission statement is its emphasis on students becoming engaged and well-informed citizens, said Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas.
As the accreditation process moves forward, the Mission Team will look at potential problems in the mission statement, starting with gap analysis.
“We are looking at gaps between what our mission says and what we have down in terms of policies, because policy dictates practice at any institution,” Frazer said.
Gap analysis of the mission statement will involve looking at a set of criteria that the Higher Learning Commission has suggested are the best practices in higher education, Frazer said.
Based on these criteria, the team will put forth artifacts, which are tangible evidence such as policies, that show FLC is meeting these requirements, Frazer said.
“We are going to target not just the campus, but the community to see what they think about it,” Martin said.
One conflict the team is dealing with is whether FLC can still be defined as a liberal arts institution, because the school now offers a graduate degree program for Teacher Leadership.
“I think what we ought to be looking at is becoming more of a comprehensive college that has liberal arts and also has professional preparation programs,” Frazer said.
These professional preparation programs, such as adventure education and public health, draw from the liberal arts model and attracts a lot of students to enroll, Frazer said.
“Professionals prepared in a liberal arts environment go out much enriched in ways that professionals prepared in a narrow professional school are not,” Thomas said.
The mission team’s evaluation of the mission statement based on accuracy, availability and commitment to diversity and public good is an integral part in demonstrating FLC’s excellence in higher learning.