Over two years of intensive planning will come to a close on Monday and Tuesday, as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) — the body in charge of the University of New Mexico’s accreditation — will perform a site visit on UNM's main campus.
According to their website, the HLC has the responsibility of affirming the accreditation status of higher education institutions in 19 states, including New Mexico. They judge whether or not a university is accredited based upon five criteria:
- Criterion 1. Mission
- Criterion 2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
- Criterion 3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support
- Criterion 4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
- Criterion 5. Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
Pamela Cheek, associate provost for curriculum and assessment, has been working on preparing for the accreditation process for the past two years. During a special board of regents meeting last Thursday, she highlighted some points of concern that the HLC will be looking into, including state governance, audits and enrollment.
Cheek highlighted three possible outcomes of the accreditation process: UNM could receive full accreditation without any added conditions, the accreditation could not be reaffirmed or the University can receive accreditation along with a request for intermediary reports on certain issues, which Cheek said has been the outcome of the last few accreditation processes.
Cheek said it is extremely unlikely that the University would not have their accreditation reaffirmed, adding that there is "no reason to worry." However, she said if it were to happen, it could put UNM's federal funding in jeopardy. She said that degrees and credits already earned would not be affected.
It has been previously reported by the Daily Lobo that the HLC will be focusing on the Athletics Department, which has faced scrutiny due to various scandals including an infamous fundraising trip in Scotland that former-Athletics Director Paul Krebs paid for using university money.
Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez said he is not worried about the potential effects the department's past scandals could have on the accreditation process.
"We've done everything we can possibly do to kind of give them as much insight of where (Athletics) was and where it is now, and it's basically night and day," Nuñez said. "We need to get this accreditation (and) we're not letting Athletics bring us down."
Three public forums will be held on campus, where members of the public are invited to discuss certain points of the criteria with members of the site visit team. The locations and times are listed below:
- March 4, 10:45-12 p.m., Anderson School of Management, MCM 2110 (Criteria 3-4)
- March 4, 2-3 p.m., SUB Ballroom A (Criteria 1-2)
- March 5, 10-11 a.m., Domenici Center, Room 2720 (Criterion 5)
Kyle Land is the editor-in-chief for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.