CU-Boulder is currently being held under the microscope as a part of the reaccreditation process.
CU spokesperson Bronson Hilliard said the Higher Learning Commission’s team would be looking closely at CU-Boulder.
“They’re going to look us over with a fine-toothed comb,” Hilliard said.
The HLC began their site team visit Monday, and it will last until Wednesday. The HLC accredits CU-Boulder every 10 years, according to the reaccredidation Web site.
Hilliard said that accreditation is key for the university to function.
“Accreditation allows us to essentially be an official university,” Hilliard said. “It allows us to apply for federal grants. It allows us to issue financial aid. It allows us to enroll and matriculate students.”
The site team consists of a group of higher education leaders from universities across the country that will review CU for reaccreditation, according to the site. Before the visit, the university released a Self Study Report, which reflected much of CU’s Flagship 2030 plan, according to the Web site.
Hilliard said he was excited for the site team visit.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us to demonstrate why we’re worthy of accreditation and to demonstrate our strategies for accreditation,” Hilliard said. “We’re excited to demonstrate the linkage of accreditation to our strategic plan, Flagship 2030, because we think that’s one of the most exciting strategic plans in all of American higher education.”
Hilliard said the administration has been working since about 2007 to prepare for the visit of the accreditation site team.
“This is the culmination of three solid years worth of work,” Hilliard said. “It is an unbelievably complex undertaking. Hundreds and hundreds—dare I say thousands—of hours of work on the part of the administration, the faculty, to demonstrate who we are and what we’re doing and why we’re worthy of accreditation.”
Hilliard said the next couple of days are going to be filled with “dawn to dusk meetings.” The site team is divided up into different sub-teams, and the sub-teams will meet with different constituents to talk about various aspects of the university. Some topics that will be covered are teaching, research, administrative accountability and institutional integrity.
“It’s sort of like presenting the university in 32 different cross-sections,” Hilliard said. “You’re going to get the total university broken up into its individual parts and responsibilities, and each one of those committees is going to focus like a laser on its particular area of interest.”
In a student forum held Monday at the UMC, students voiced their opinions about CU. The main topics circled around the effectiveness of the end-of-semester FCQ, professor accountability and CU’s increasing fees.
Rachel Austin, a 26-year-old French Masters candidate and graduate instructor, said she was frustrated with the FCQ process.
“When it comes to my students I feel like half of them don’t bother to fill out the FCQs and the rest are split between students who like me who say, ‘I like you’ and students who don’t like me who say, ‘hey you suck,’” Austin said. “I think it’s a pretty crappy system frankly.”
Christina Rudosky, a 28-year-old French doctoral candidate said she agreed that the surveys’ feedback was unhelpful. She said only two out of her 25 students wrote in the comment box. However, Rudosky said she was glad that she was able to give her input to the site team.
“It’s great that there was this forum, but there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed,” Rudosky said. “I’m curious what they will do with our comments.”
Daniel Ramos, a 23-year-old fifth-year senior sociology and Spanish major and a UCSU tri-executive said he also felt the forum went well and that he hopes the student input will be taken into consideration.
“I think just letting them know, if it’s something they include in the report it will be something the administration will take it very seriously,” Ramos said. “I know the administration will go over this with a fine-tooth comb and hopefully make some improvements based on the feedback they get in the final report.”
Despite the student critiques, Hilliard said the likelihood of CU losing its accreditation is very small.
“We’re very confident that we’re going to be reaccredited,” Hilliard said. “We’ve never failed to be reaccredited, since 1913. So it would take something rather catastrophic for us not to be reaccredited.”