For the past several months, a multitude of people at Illinois Central College have been involved in putting together a self-study report for the North Central Association (NCA). The NCA is the organization that accredits colleges and universities, as well as high schools and elementary schools in the Midwest. As part of their accreditation process, the NCA requires schools to take a look at what they do and how well they do it. This same group will send nine reviewers to ICC in April to take a look at ICC.
The self-study itself is a work of monumental proportions. The study contains 19 chapters, 13 appendices, and nearly 300 pages of information and documentation on the college. The study includes information on college governance, financial and physical resources, human resources, student access, student entry, student services, instructional and academic programs, faculty and staff development, program development, evaluation and revision, academic assessment and achievement, community outreach, strategic and operational planning, and more. In other words, the college has looked at virtually every aspect of its life through this process.
There are those who would say that NCA, like any accrediting or certification process for any industry, is a necessary evil and little more. But for us, the NCA process has taken on a new dimension.
The people who worked on this NCA report were very candid. While there is always a temptation to put the best face on everything when conducting a self-assessment, those who worked on the self-study saw a greater purpose. Like the pioneers of the process improvements, Kaizen and Six Sigma, the ICC Self-Study Team took an honest look at what we do well and what we don’t. Then they put it down in writing. The good and the not-so-good. The areas where we really shine. And those that need some polishing.
For ICC, the NCA information provides us with critical background information to move our own comprehensive planning and process management initiatives forward. The NCA data gives us an unprecedented benchmark from which we can work.
The careful self-evaluation, coupled with what our reviewers tell us, will help us clarify our future direction. After all is said and done, we’ll know what strengths to leverage, what opportunities to seize, and what areas to improve. The NCA process will set the stage for ICC’s continued and future success.
As a member of the ICC district, you are entitled to provide input into the accreditation process. If you have comments about the substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs, please feel free to write to: Public Comment on Illinois Central College, Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602.
The NCA notes that "comments must be in writing and signed" and "cannot be treated as confidential." All comments must be received by March 15. IBI