President's Letter Concerning Accreditation
Dear College Community:
Over the next few years, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) will take the steps necessary to seek continued accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation by the HLC is one way the College demonstrates, publicly, its commitment to quality and its willingness to be held externally accountable to those we serve.
While we begin the process with the vision of continuing OTC's accredited status, the primary goal should be the improvement of our institution. When we find areas of challenge during this process, we will develop strategies to improve immediately. This process will also provide an opportunity to recognize areas where the College excels and learn from these examples to improve all aspects of the institution.
The College last completed the HLC accreditation process in 2001. Since then, the criteria for accreditation have changed to become more reliant on evidence-based reporting. In addition, the criteria require the College to demonstrate how everything we do relates to the institution's mission. To meet the self-study requirements, various committees have been appointed to complete a thorough review of all aspects of the College. To date, over 90 faculty, staff, administrators, and students are serving on these committees.
Perhaps the most tangible aspect of the accreditation process is the College's self-study. This document will provide evidence of how the institution meets each of the criteria defined by the HLC. All College units, academic and non-academic, will need to be active participants in the process if the College is to be successful in its review efforts. In addition, we will be collecting relevant data and artifacts as evidence, soliciting input and feedback related to our accreditation progress, and preparing the campus for a comprehensive site visit from the HLC. This visit is scheduled for February 7-9, 2011. Katherine Perkins, Dean of Academic Services, and Witt Salley, College Director for OTC Online, are coordinating this process for the College.
OTC has much to be proud of, but we must keep in mind that the College is operating in a time of challenging economic and societal issues and ongoing calls for increased accountability and transparency. Let us use this opportunity to advance our culture of success and commitment to excellence, examine where we have been as a College and where we are going, and identify ways of better serving students and the community. I look forward to working with all of you as we work toward continued accreditation and the continuous improvement of the College.
Hal L. Higdon, Ph.D.