CSU is Accredited Higher Learning Commission Accreditation

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chicago State University currently accredited?
Yes, by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

When will the next HLC re-accreditation visit take place?
The campus will prepare a self-study report, based on the new criteria, and submit it to the HLC 2012-2013. An evaluation team from the HLC has not been scheduled to date. The last full accreditation visit from the North Central Association was in April 2003. Re-accreditation usually takes place in a ten-year cycle. In July 2009, the campus was notified that it must participate in a Focused Visit from HLC evaluators to examine a few areas that received critical attention during the 2003 visit and appeared in subsequent reports in 2006 and 2009.

When will the HLC Focused Visit take place?
A Team from the HLC is scheduled to come to campus January, February or March 2010.

What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)? What happened to the North Central Association (NCA)?
The Higher Learning Commission is the newly-renamed arm of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools that is responsible for the accreditation of colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. The full title used to be North Central Association Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The new name is simpler and reflects the shift in higher education toward accountability for student learning.

What is the NCA?
The North Central Association is one of six regional associations that accredit schools and colleges in the United States. The other five are the Middle States, New England, Northwest, Southern and Western Associations. Although most of the colleges and universities that the NCA Higher Learning Commission accredits are in the upper Midwest, its geographical range extends from West Virginia to Arizona.

What is HLC accreditation? Why is it important?
While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study (education, nursing, etc.), the Higher Learning Commission and other regional accrediting agencies are responsible for assuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards in terms of their missions, operations, and activities in teaching and student learning, discovery and promotion of knowledge, and service. Accreditation is an assurance to the public that an institution is properly prepared to do its job. On a more practical level, the HLC and the other accrediting agencies have been designated as the "gatekeepers" for federal funds in higher education. Unaccredited schools are not eligible for many kinds of federal support. For more information, see the HLC website.

What does the HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
Along with the change of name, the HLC has just adopted a new set of criteria for evaluation that went into effect January 1, 2005. The current criteria can be found at:
The five new criteria areas, which will be in effect when CSU comes up for re-accreditation 2012:

  • Mission and Integrity
  • Preparing for the Future
  • Student Learning and Effective Teaching
  • Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge
  • Engagement and Service

How is the campus preparing for the HLC Focused Visit in 2010?
A Task Force comprised of the provost, faculty, deans, representatives from the offices of enrollment services and institutional research, students and a representative of the Board of Trustees has been established to identify effective enrollment strategies for universal implementation at CSU; to disseminate this information to the University community for feedback and discussion; to facilitate implementation for the spring 2010 term; make recommendations for sustainability to the new enrollment management vice president; and to help prepare the campus community for the Focused Visit.

Who will be on the HLC Focused Visit Team?
The campus will be visited by a Peer Review Team of trained Consultant Evaluators, possibly 2-5 members. These are administrators, staff people, and faculty who have been accepted to the Peer Review Corps by the HLC. All will have gone through training for such visits and will be familiar with review process. Most of the team members will be experienced reviewers. Information regarding the team composition is forthcoming and will be shared when it becomes available.

What will the team do during the visit?
The team will already have received the June 2009 Progress Report and 2006 Monitoring Report and will have had access to information on the web. During the visit, they will be seeking to validate the content of the Progress and Monitoring Reports in terms of the strengths we have declared and data that support them, as well as concerns that need attention or issues that may confront us in the future. Team members will have meetings with key individuals and groups from across the campus and will have open meetings that are less structured. Most of these activities will take place in January, February or March 2010. The team will make an Exit Report on their preliminary findings.
Recent Actions Taken
The Focused Visit will confirm that the CSU community has taken the Higher Learning Commission’s concerns seriously, and it is ready to provide evidence that supports how we have improved enrollment management, including customer service at the University. Such indicators will include but not limited to the following actions taken:

  • allocated permanent funding for marketing and recruitment for the first time;
  • enhanced registration process planning during the summer 2009 term and implementation fall 2009 term;
  • conducted search for Vice President for Enrollment Management;
  • established Advisory Task Force for preparation for the Focused Team Visit;
  • established retention goals for each college effective fall 2009 term;
  • implemented on-line Early Warning System that monitors students’ academic progress during each 4-week interval to determine students’ academic support needs such as tutors;
  • collected satisfaction surveys to identify strengths and determine areas for improvement (i.e., Enhanced Registration—including book vouchers loaded on students’ One Card, new direct deposit process, health insurance waivers, photo IDs, trolley car transportation between buildings, free parking, use of staff volunteers, etc.); and Student Loan Check Disbursement;
  • developed the one-year course schedule for the fall 2010 and spring 2011;
  • extended hours of operation with staffing for the library, fitness center, game room, etc.;
  • initiated the identification of a consultant with expertise in the HLC self-study process to assist in the accreditation process;
  • enhanced communication to new students;
  • embarked on campus beautification program;
  • established University and college retention goals as reflected in the President’s contract;
  • increased the number of placement examinations offered both on campus and online; and
  • increased the number of student orientations.

All of the aforementioned initiatives have begun, with the support of the CSU Board of Trustees, and through assessment will be improved if necessary. We will enhance the participation of the University community at all levels in the enrollment management process. Further, we hope to enhance collaboration and become more transparent through soliciting input and making available relative information regarding the process in forums such as the All Campus Assembly, other scheduled meetings and via postings on the University’s web. Lastly, we hope to come together as one in our effort to maintain continued accreditation status. It is critical that this effort becomes a priority.