In October 2009, Union College received another 10-year accreditation from both the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Adventist Academic Association (AAA).
A decade is the maximum accreditation term granted by HLC, one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the north central region of the United States. “Accreditation shows the quality of a school,” said Malcolm Russell, Union College’s vice president for academic administration, “Without it, our students couldn’t receive federal loans or grants and our nursing, physician assistant and education graduates wouldn’t be certified or able to teach.”
The HLC accreditation process began with Union preparing a self-assessment report outlining how the college upholds its mission and values, student outcomes and progress made since the last accreditation visit. An HLC team then visited campus to interview students and employees and evaluate the self study. The AAA team, made up of Seventh-day Adventist administrators and educators, arrived shortly after the HLC team. “Adventist Academic Association approval means that we’ve met educational standards and expectations in regards to the Adventist church’s objectives,” Russell explained.
Both teams commended Union for its strong sense of community, dedicated employees and compliance with federal regulations. Like in any evaluation, Union also received several suggestions to make the college stronger. The HLC team recommended updating campus computers and integrating more technology in the classroom, having more faculty with terminal degrees and developing a stronger enrollment plan. “Many of the suggestions HLC presented were things we were already working on before their visit,” said Russell. “We recognize those are areas we need to work on and are already taking action to strengthen them.”
Russell believes this accreditation affirms Union’s academic strength and is a seal of quality. “However, this school will not sit idly for the next nine years waiting for the next accreditation,” he said. “We will continue our trend of making active improvements on campus.” This mindset has proven effective for Union, allowing the school to receive the maximum accreditation time since 1961.