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Higher Learning Commission Gives Fontbonne an ‘A’
Intensive, yes, but Fontbonne University’s preparation for the Higher Learning Commission’s February visit to campus paid off. The result? Continued accreditation for Fontbonne until 2020, with no additional reports necessary. For Fontbonne, it is the ultimate in positive feedback.
“This is more than we could have dreamed possible,” said Joyce Starr Johnson, interim vice president and dean for academic affairs and the co-chair of Fontbonne’s HLC committee. “If the final report we receive in May or June remains consistent with the preliminary report delivered to the campus on Feb. 3, it means that we will not need to submit any follow up reports, host any additional site visits, and that we can also add more online graduate programs without seeking individual approval each time.”
In short, such a glowing review indicates continual growth and a bright future for Fontbonne.
As a degree-granting educational institution, Fontbonne undergoes a voluntary self-study every 10 years in order to maintain its status as an accredited university. The Higher Learning Commission, the post-secondary part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is one of six regional accrediting bodies throughout the United States, oversees the study and evaluation. According to Johnson, preparation for Fontbonne’s 2010 review began early in the decade.
“The accreditation process is a collegial and cooperative process where institutions of higher education take the time to examine each other to ensure that the education offered is of high quality and constantly improving,” explained Sharon McCaslin, the other HLC co-chair, a Fontbonne professor and university librarian.
Additional subcommittees consisting of six to 10 individuals apiece, all passionate members of the Fontbonne community, each embraced one criterion for accreditation, working in tandem to compile an almost 200-page report evaluating Fontbonne.
“So many people were involved in putting this together, and they all did everything they needed to do with very little prodding from me or Sharon,” Johnson affirmed. “I think that attests to the fact that we care deeply about the future of the institution — it is more than just a place to work. I am proud of the people who work at Fontbonne.”
The HLC committee, composed of four peer reviewers from universities similar to Fontbonne, arrived for their three-day visit on Feb. 1. And on Feb. 3, as the campus community gathered anxiously in the Lewis room of the university library, the committee put forth the good news: after vigorous review, Fontbonne passed with flying colors.
“Fontbonne adheres to its mission, provides a quality learning experience, and continues to improve. Based on this strong track record, we can expect Fontbonne University to continue to develop as a first class university,” said McCaslin.
Johnson agreed. “Quality and integrity continue to be important here,” she said. “There are no shortcuts; just hard work. Alumni should be very proud to have a degree from an institution that places such importance on good work.”