Rend Lake College has received another 10 years of accreditation after the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) found that RLC met all five criteria for accreditation and their various subcomponents. The college's next reaffirmation will be in 2028-2029.
"This is great news for the institution to receive its full 10-year Reaffirmation of Accreditation, and is a testament to everyone's dedication to the college and its mission," Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson said after the decision was handed down.
The 10-year accreditation is the longest accreditation awarded by HLC, an independent agency that monitors the quality of degree-granting institutions over a 19-state area. The organization ensures the quality of a college's programs via an intensive peer-review process and then determines if an institution maintains accreditation, a vital benchmark to ensuring a college offers respected, transferable degree programs. Accreditation also is necessary in order for the college to be able to distribute certain types of federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants. Additionally, those in the community might see the 10-year accreditation as affirmation that their tax dollars are being used responsibly.
"Preparation for our visit and writing the assurance argument has been an ongoing initiative for the past couple of years. Our RLC team has worked diligently and cohesively to strengthen the institution and improve student learning with the concentration on our students' success. Even though this portion of the process is behind us, our efforts remain focused on continuous improvement initiatives," said Lori Ragland, RLC vice president of instruction and accreditation liaison officer.
The reaffirmation process included several various components as part of HLC's Open Pathway for accreditation. An extensive, evidence-based narrative, called an Assurance Argument, was written and submitted to HLC. This argument outlines the evidence of how the college meets each of the Five Criteria and the subcomponents. This was followed in November by a visit from a peer review team, which met with various campus groups and individuals over the course of two days. Prior to these, a federal compliance filing was required, which demonstrates the college's satisfaction of various federal guidelines. A Quality Initiative also is a requirement of the Open Pathway process. This was RLC's First-Year Experience program, which was implemented and supported with a written report to HLC.
Several staff and faculty members worked for the past three years to prepare and submit all the varied reports and requirements for the process.
The final report from the HLC is available at rlc.edu/hlc. For more information on the Five Criteria and the Open Pathway, visit www.hlcommission.org.