Mesalands Community College school officials have received official notice of 10 years of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, a unit of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is the body that grants accreditation for colleges, universities and schools in this region.
In April, Mesalands underwent a voluntary, comprehensive evaluation visit by a team of four from the commission.
An accreditation team evaluates the entire institution and accredits it as a whole. NCA accredits approximately 950 institutions of higher education in a nineteen-state region, and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
The notice is the end of several years hard work which started in 1997. That was when the two-year status of candidacy for accreditation was granted after the college’s newly installed president, Phillip O. Barry, launched a campaign to move MCC to its present status. In August 1999, Mesalands was advanced to the status of initial accreditation for a five-year period.
For the past year all Mesalands employees have been engaged in a self-study process addressing the commission’s requirements and criteria for accreditation.
The evaluation team visited the institution to gather evidence whether the self-study was thorough and accurate, and whether Mesalands was fulfilling its mission to its students and the community. The team reported its findings to the commission and the commission took the final action of granting the10-year accreditation status.
Upon completing its visit, the accreditation team did an exit meeting to advise the administrators of Mesalands of its findings and explain what its recommendation were to be to the commission. According to Mesalands spokesman John Yearout, when the announcement was made that a 10-year (the maximum possible) accreditation recommendation was being submitted, “the room full of Mesalands employees burst into loud cheers.”
Yearout said some well-prepared and optimistic employees showered college administrators with confetti.
Division Chairperson Natalie Gillard has worked on all three levels of getting Mesalands accredited. “We did this with a dedicated staff that is willing to sacrifice their time for a good cause,” said Gillard.
Virtually everyone agreed it was the entire school pulling together that brought about the accreditation.
“This was not the work of any one person or two people, but the result of a team effort,” said Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees Chair Muriel Latham-Pfeifer after reading the letter from NCA granting the accreditation.