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Community Voices, September 2014

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October will be a milestone month for the University as we welcome two very important groups to campus. Our first group to visit campus will be the accreditation team from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency that ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. The Commission serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices. CCNE accreditation supports and encourages continuing self-assessment by nursing programs and supports continuing growth and improvement of collegiate professional education programs. As a commitment to meeting the workforce demands of our region, SMSU added a RN to BSN program in the fall of 2013 and the upcoming site visit will be a very significant next step in establishing the long term viability of the program.

The second visit will be from an HLC Review Team on October 20-22 as SMSU continues the process of seeking reaffirmation of institutional accreditation. HLC stands for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, the regional accrediting agency for higher education. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality and retain eligibility for federal assistance and financial aid programs. Every ten years the HLC conducts a site visit to each institution to affirm continued accreditation. In preparation, SMSU conducted an in-depth self-study to measure our performance against standards established by the HLC. Our self-study is focused around the theme, “I AM SMSU: Integrity, Academics, Mission” and looks at all aspects of the University relative to the standards of accreditation.

As part of the HLC team visit, reviewers will spend time talking with faculty, staff, students and community members to gather insights regarding perceptions of and engagement with the University. Community member feedback from employers, alumni, donors and other patrons is very important to the HLC to ensure that we as an institution are meeting the various commitments we make through our mission. “Preparing students to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities”, is the core of our mission at SMSU and we rely on ongoing assessment and feedback from our stakeholders to ensure we are fulfilling that mission.

I would encourage everyone to take some time to review our self-study published on our website at WWW.SMSU.EDU/HLC. A University is truly a living breathing organization that is constantly assessing, evolving and adapting to stay relevant in the midst of a changing world. SMSU has many things to offer its students and the surrounding communities, and so our goal is to share our story. By taking time to learn more about what we do and how we serve our region, you too can help tell the Southwest story.


Published in the Marshall Independent on October 1, 2014.

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