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Telling the Story of Notre Dame College
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Telling the Story of Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College has a story to tell. Since 2000, when the decision was made to admit men, many additional initiatives have moved the College from “Cleveland’s best kept secret” to a college-of-choice for a record number of traditional and adult students. Currently, Notre Dame is preparing this story for the North Central Division of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is the major body that evaluates a college or university and accredits it as a whole. (See the sidebar for the accreditation criteria.) 

The preparation for continued accreditation requires the College to tell its story through self-study, a significant written report that describes how it meets each criterion, supported by irrefutable evidence. Starting from 2000, the year of the last accreditation, the report will reach into the future and suggest ways that the College will continually advance the quality of the education that it offers.

During the last academic year, a steering committee and five criteria sub-committees were formed to guide the self-study process. They engaged students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Board of Directors in surveys and discussions that would provide the content for the story. Like any story, it will require the wise eyes of many to correct and perfect the text. That is the task facing the entire college community during the current fall semester. By the end of November, many venues will have been utilized to gather responses that will assure wide participation.

Once the story is told through the self-study report, it will be sent to the HLC and peer reviewers from other colleges. These peer reviewers, coming from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan will visit Notre Dame College for three days in March to see first-hand how Notre Dame College meets the criteria. Their report to the HLC will determine the length of reaccreditation provided to the College.

Accreditation is required for federal and state funding. Beyond compliance for funding, however, there are two additional benefits of accreditation for Notre Dame: knowledge by the entire College community of its current state and preparation for its future. The self-study report will be available on our website and will chronicle important initiatives that the College undertook to meet the challenges of our complex and fast-changing society. It is the hope of the steering committee that this story will serve as an oft-used reference for those who want to know more about the College.

The self-study also provides a look to the future. The HLC can reaccredit a college or university for up to ten years. Confidence to offer this will be based on the assurance that Notre Dame has prepared itself for that length of time: reflecting on its past, relying on its mission, and demonstrating flexible planning. 

This is the first of three articles for Notre Dame Today. The Spring/Summer 2007 edition will provide details of the five criteria and the Fall/Winter 2007-2008 edition will provide the results of the reaccreditation visit and report.

Nancy Baird Ph.D. is the executive dean for planning and assessment at Notre Dame College.