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Assessment yields positive results

Head, heart, and hand: a motto John Brown University remains loyal to, according to the latest assessment provided by the Higher Learning Commission.

Responsible for conducting the assessment once every 10 years, the HLC, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, sent a team to conduct a comprehensive visit evaluating the institution for the purposes of continued accreditation.

Richard Ellis, dean of graduate studies, said the results came back positive as the institution received its reaccreditation for the next decade without any commission follow-ups. The only circumstance under which the group would revisit before its set time is if something drastic happened, such as a financial crisis.

The comprehensive visit that occurs at the end of every 10 years is not performed by a government auditor, but by a group of certified staff and faculty from other colleges in the region.

Criteria determining accreditation include graduation rates, student loan deficit and the high debt ratio.

Ellis said aside from all the criteria, the number one thing that stood out to the committee was how devoted the University was to the head, heart and hand motto.

“The [Commission] said the statement continued to come up in conversations, not only by students but also faculty and staff,” he said. “They definitely know who we are and why we are here.”

However, there is always room for improvement. The assessment advised the school to keep better track of how they measure student learning. Robert Norwood, dean of undergraduate studies, said during this next self-study period the University will find the right system that will allow them to keep a better record.

“It’s like receiving a graded paper with red marks,” he said. “We have to go back and correct and see how we can improve it to create a balance.”

Ellis agreed the need for documentation not only lets the audience know that they are doing right as an institution, but also informs the students that the school is here to serve them.

Norwood explained that though the University is not required to do the assessments, administrators proceed with it because it provides the school with “a stamp of quality” and also accesses federal funds such as financial aid.

Ellis, who has had the opportunity to commission other schools in the past, said that while others schools are not financially stable, the University knows where it stands in its endowments, which leads to financial security.

“The visit isn’t just about making sure you are doing well today, but also keeping a focus on what is to come in the next 10 years,” Ellis said.