By Cam Alsbrook
March 1 – 2, representatives from the Higher Learning Commission visited Cameron physically and digitally for its ten-year evaluation of the campus.
The evaluation determines accreditation for the university, and affects scholarship opportunities such as Pell grants, transferable credit hours, and more.
The Higher Learning Commission has been active as one of the six regional institutional accreditors in the United States since 1895, with coverage spanning Oklahoma universities as well as universities in 18 other states.
Director of Institutional Research, Assessment and Accountability, Dr. Karla Oty said that this visit from the HLC was different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused peer-reviewers to adopt new methods for evaluating Cameron.
“Prior to the pandemic,” Oty said. “the entire team would have traveled to Cameron for the visit and all meetings would have been held in-person. Because of the visit, the meetings were moved to Zoom, and five of the six peer-reviewers participated in the review process through Zoom. The sixth peer-reviewer visited on-site.”
The pandemic also prompted a change in rules. Typically, an HLC representative cannot evaluate a university located in their home state, however, an exception was made this time and the visiting representative was an Oklahoma native.
Cameron began to prepare for the visit in spring 2018, building and revising its Assurance Argument thanks to the Assurance team from Spring 2018 – Summer 2019, feedback of the Content Review team during Fall 2019 – Summer 2020, the Executive Counsel in Summer 2020, and the campus (?) during Fall 2020.
The Assurance Argument focused on Cameron from Nov. 2010 to March 2020 and addressed 69 sub-components across five criterial areas for accreditation from the HLC.
The meetings for the visit occurred in several time blocks for different groups. Meetings for all employees happened via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. on March 1, with a meeting without deans, directors, vice presidents or President John McArthur from 3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Students could communicate with the HLC representatives from 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. on March 2 during the Student Forum Zoom meeting.
On March 2, McArthur emailed the campus after the evaluation visit was completed:
“This morning [March 2], our six HLC peer-reviewers completed their visit to our institution to review our Assurance Argument, to gather additional information to validate our argument and to ask questions of different campus stakeholder groups.” McArthur said. “Thank you for your participation and your support during a long two day and even longer years of preparation for the visit. I appreciate your efforts whether as a student to continue learning and to offer feedback to improve the learning experience or as an employee to work or provide constructive feedback to allow us to continue to improve in support of our mission with each passing year and with an ever changing student population.”
The email also said that the university will receive a report that gives suggestions and ratings for each of the criterion and core components.
Cameron will be able to fix issues or respond to the report when it is received and proceed to have their responses as well as the team report submitted to the Institutional Actions Council for reviewal.
Information updates for the HLC visit can be found at www.cameron.edu/hlc.