On Monday, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) began their decennial accreditation review of Kenyon.
According to Director of Institutional Research Erika Farfan, the accreditation process is a review by an accrediting agency, like the HLC, of an institution’s program quality and adherence to federal regulations. “This review reaffirms Kenyon’s standing as an accredited college with educational standards that allow for federal funding, transfer of credit, [and] acknowledgement of degrees awarded,” Farfan wrote in a Student-info and Employee-info email on Monday.
Though the formal review began this week, Provost Jeff Bowman noted that the process actually commenced more than a year ago, when the College started its work on an extensive self-study report called the “Assurance Argument.” Farfan also said that this report summarizes how the institution has maintained and improved the quality of its programs, where it has grown in the last 10 years and how it plans to invest resources for future growth.
After reading the report, most of the peer review team visited the College virtually, with one member traveling to Gambier.
The two-day campus review consisted of two open meetings for faculty and students on Feb. 22, and one for staff on Feb. 23, in which participants were asked targeted questions about topics from the self-study. These meetings, according to Farfan, served to supplement the report and augment the reviewers’ understanding of the College. “Just like it’s hard to choose a college from admissions materials, it’s hard to understand the College’s culture completely by reading a document alone,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian.
At the student meeting, Pamela Young, director of academic diversity and inclusion at the University of Notre Dame, asked attendees questions about academic support services like the Writing Center and Math and Science Skills Center, Kenyon’s mission statement, student employment issues, academic accommodations and financial aid. She also asked students to speak on why they chose Kenyon and what they’ve found most valuable about their Kenyon experience.
At the end of the meeting, students were given the opportunity to voice their own concerns, and some brought up issues of deep-seated racism in the College and lack of mental health support.
Following these meetings, the peer reviewers will write a report to be assessed by the HLC, noting strengths and suggestions for potential improvements. Farfan noted that the HLC will likely ask for regular follow-up reports in order to ensure that the College continues its commitment to the mission. According to President Sean Decatur, the goal is for the HLC to submit a draft at the end of the week, and the College will hear back about the review sometime in March.