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March 6, 2003

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Higher Learning Commission Review team 
will recommend
ASU for continued accreditation 

Arkansas State University will be recommended for continued accreditation for another 10 years!

That was the bottom line response from the review team representing The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, according to Dr. Les Wyatt, president.
Ten years is the longest term possible.  The next full team review will be in 2012-13.

The chair of the review team met with Dr. Wyatt Wednesday morning to deliver this news and a brief overview of the team’s conclusions.
The review team, consisting of veteran educators from throughout the country, was on campus Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to conduct the on-site phase of the accreditation review.  The team is expected to submit a preliminary report and recommendations to the full Higher Learning Commission by early May.

“The team leader, Dr. Greg Gagnon, told me,
'this is a good university, doing good things, making good progress, because of good people,' ” Dr. Wyatt said.  “He said ASU is doing outstanding work.”

The visit follows a lengthy self-study process, which ASU formally began with campus events in April 2001.  During an accreditation review, The Higher Learning Commission looks at five major areas of university activities: mission, organization, accomplishments, purposes and integrity.

“We were told that ASU meets the HLC criteria and expectations in all of those areas,” Wyatt added. The visitors were very complimentary about the quality of ASU’s self-study and said the visit was exceptionally well organized.  Dr. Wyatt said they commended Dr. Lynita Cooksey, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, who led ASU’s self-study and review preparation, along with all faculty and staff who took part in the effort.

While the overall conclusion was positive, the team did make note of some areas where the university will need to continue working.

“Part of the visiting team’s role is to give advice and counsel on areas where we need to give special attention for improvement,” Dr. Wyatt said.  “We welcome the direction and guidance from the team.” Details will be listed in the written report, but Wyatt said the team will recommend an HLC “focus visit” in 2006-07 to monitor progress in four areas. 

Dr. Gagnon said some of ASU’s weaknesses cited in the previous review, in 1993, have not been adequately addressed.  Assessment in general education programs and graduate-level programs needs improvement.
He also said ASU needs to develop and implement a long-range strategic plan for the Arkansas State University System, which includes all six campuses, as well as an enrollment management program for ASU-Jonesboro and the system campuses where ASU-Jonesboro offers courses.

The team chair also told Dr. Wyatt that his associates would identify in its written report a number of areas for the university to address.  These will not require further HLC action. One example is Wilson Hall, ASU’s oldest building. The team termed the classroom building’s condition “an embarrassment,” but also acknowledged that ASU has been seeking $19.5 million in state funds to construct a liberal arts teaching building which would effectively replace the classroom space in Wilson.

Overall, Dr. Wyatt said he was satisfied with the team’s assessment. “We were pleased to receive this fair and positive report from the HLC visiting team,” he added.

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