University receives 10-year reaccreditation without interim review (7-9-04)

Ball State University has been reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

The HLC approved Ball State's reaccreditation for a 10-year period, during which the university will not undergo any type of interim review or monitoring. The reaccreditation came as a result of the university's engagement in a two-year process in which it completed a comprehensive self-study, solicited community input and underwent a site visit by a team of consultant evaluators drawn from higher education.

"The accreditation site team's report to the Higher Learning Commission is overwhelmingly positive and a clear validation of the hard work in which so many Ball State people are engaged," said Acting President Beverley J. Pitts. "The review shows Ball State serves its students well and provides a positive atmosphere for faculty and staff. Further, it confirms our conviction that Ball State is extraordinarily well-positioned to achieve even greater success."

The site team reviewed Ball State's self-study and comments on the study before making a visit to the university in February. During the visit, the team analyzed whether the university is meeting 24 basic general institutional requirements and evaluated the institution's performance in fulfilling five key criteria.

In addition to affirming that the university continues to meet the general institutional requirements, the team concluded the five key criteria were satisfied because Ball State:

  • has clear and publicly stated purposes consistent with its mission and appropriate to an institution of higher education
  • has effectively organized the human, financial and physical resources necessary to accomplish its purposes
  • is accomplishing its educational and other purposes
  • can continue to accomplish its purposes and strengthen its educational effectiveness
  • demonstrates integrity in its practices and relationships

"The fact that the team recognized that Ball State is excelling in accomplishing its educational mission is particularly pleasing since this represents the absolute core of a university's reason for being," Pitts said. "The site team confirmed our belief that the university offers an outstanding and broad-based educational experience."

The report also acknowledged that the university has taken significant action to address concerns raised in the 1993 accreditation report and that the university recognizes the need for continual vigilance in each of these areas.

"The progress made in the last decade, however, clearly demonstrates the institution's capacity to address identified challenges," the report says.

The site team praised the university's current self-study, saying it was "accurate and demonstrated high integrity." Pitts says the self-study is one of the primary benefits of the accreditation process.

"The exercise of conducting a detailed self-examination is truly one of the most important aspects of the accreditation process, and it is extremely gratifying that the team's findings reflect the tremendous integrity of that process," Pitts said. "Every individual who devoted time and energy to the self-study—and there were hundreds—was part of making this reaccreditation visit a success." 

In addition to the main body of the final report, called the "assurance section," the review team produced an "advancement section," which recognizes significant accomplishments, significant progress, and exemplary and innovative practices as well as offers suggestions for possible improvement.

The advancement section praised the divisions of University Advancement and Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, as well as the Teaching and Learning Advancement office for exhibiting characteristics that should serve as models for other institutions. The section also mentions the entrepreneurship program, the College of Architecture and Planning, the physical facilities and the assessment activities of Ball State as exemplary.

The team used the advancement section to provide consultation in the areas of assessment, governance and distance education. Noting the excellence of university leadership in the areas of distance education and assessment, as well as the attention being given to strengthening the roles various constituencies have in governance, the team concluded that "Ball State can and is expected to" meet the challenge of positive progress in these areas "in the same positive manner they have addressed challenges in the past."

The university is not obligated to respond to the advancement section, which is new since Ball State's last reaccreditation visit. However, it is a valuable addition to the process, Pitts said.

"The Higher Learning Commission's reaccreditation team comprises members with a great depth of experience and expertise in higher education," Pitts said. "We're very pleased with their recognition of some of our great strengths and appreciative of the advice they have offered. The university will carefully consider any suggestions that may help us achieve our vision of becoming a national model in higher education."