President's Message to Campus - August 20, 2019

HLC Campus Update

Ferris State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional association that reviews postsecondary institutions in 19 Midwestern and Southwestern states. The HLC last visited Ferris in the Spring of 2011, when we received a full 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation without additional reporting or visit requirements. The HLC will be conducting a comprehensive accreditation reaffirmation visit at Ferris on Oct. 5 and 6, 2020. Since November 2017, many faculty and staff across all campuses and locations have been engaged in the reaffirmation process. As we begin the 2019-2020 academic year, there is much important work underway.

In the decade since our last accreditation, the HLC has moved away from the self-study approach used in past reviews to an evidence-based assurance argument. Of the three options available for maintaining accreditation, the HLC’s Open Pathway process, focused on quality assurance and institutional improvement, was best suited for Ferris. Key to the Open Pathway approach is the Quality Initiative, which is designed to provide institutions the opportunity to implement improvement projects that meet current concerns and aspirations. Our Quality Initiative focuses on academic literacies and aligning strategies to enhance retention, student learning and the learning environment. Each college, academic units, and Kendall College of Art and Design are tasked with developing specific projects designed to result in improvements in each of these three areas, with over 160 faculty and staff involved in coordinating and facilitating these projects.

Yesterday afternoon members of the HLC leadership team presented the session “Quality Initiative/Academic Literacies Center” organized for faculty/staff Kickoff Week. The information presented included the Academic Literacies Center, the 33 quality initiatives developed through the HLC reaffirmation process and how they directly tie into the Academic Literacies Center. Through these quality initiatives, education strategies are being explored as ways to both remediate learning deficits and enhance academic capabilities on individual and group levels. These also can foster innovative pedagogy in the classroom. Thank you to Provost Paul Blake and the members of the HLC leadership team for sharing this information with the campus community.

To ensure reaffirmation of our accreditation, the University must submit an Assurance Argument and supporting evidence by Sept. 3, 2020 that demonstrates how we meet or exceed each of the HLC Criteria for AccreditationAssumed Practices and Federal Compliance. An HLC Review Team will confirm the findings of our Quality Initiative, Assurance Argument and supporting evidence through their review and Comprehensive Visit next October. This visit will incorporate the entire University, including the Big Rapids campus, Kendall College of Art and Design, and our statewide locations. 

Please join me in thanking the many faculty and staff engaged in this very important work for our University. Members of the HLC leadership team, steering committee and sub-committee co-chairs include –

  • Tina Arduini, Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Sandra Balkema, Professor, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Jason Bentley, Dean, Retention and Student Success
  • Paul Blake, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs
  • Mitzi Day, Director, Institutional Research
  • Angela Dow, Professor, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Tom Dowling, Assistant Dean, College of Pharmacy
  • Steve Durst, Dean, College of Pharmacy
  • Jeff Ek, HLC Co-Chair, Associate Professor and Chair, College of Business
  • Olukemi Fadayomi, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
  • John Globoker, Director of Admin and Finance/CFO, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Mike Grandy, Associate Vice President, Administration and Finance
  • Donna Green, Associate Professor, College of Business
  • Kristi Haik, HLC Co-Chair, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jennifer Hegenauer, Executive Director of Research, Planning and Assessment, Academic Affairs/Extended and International Operations
  • Angie Hollister, Administrative Assistant to Associate Provost, Academic Affairs
  • Melinda Isler, Professor, FLITE
  • Alison Konieczny, Librarian/Associate Professor, FLITE
  • Gayle Lopez, Professor & Chair, College of Business
  • Tara McCrackin, Interim President, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Leah Monger, Assistant Dean, FLITE
  • Jon Moroney, Associate Professor, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Anne Norcross, Professor, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Susan Owens, Associate Professor, College of Health Professions
  • Steve Reifert, Dean, Extended and International Operations
  • Angela Roman, Director, Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services
  • Mandy Seiferlein, Interim Associate Provost - Accreditation and Assessment, Academic Affairs
  • Brenda Sipe, Director of Continuing Studies, Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Mark Thomson, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jeanine Ward-Roof, Vice President, Student Affairs
  • Heidi Wisby, Director, Financial Aid
  • Jim Woolen, Associate Dean, College of Business

Additionally, more than 120 faculty and staff have served on HLC subcommittees since Fall 2017.

I encourage you to learn more about our HLC accreditation and timeline, and to anticipate future correspondence from the HLC team. They look forward to keeping you informed about the reaffirmation process throughout the year and to offering you opportunities to provide feedback.

David L. Eisler, president