Yang Leads Steering Committee Through HLC Process

by Ryan Bower, Assistant Director of Public Relations

Over the course of the next year, a group of faculty and staff members at Cedarville University will be integral in making sure that the school communicates to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) how it has met all requirements for reaffirmation of accreditation. The HLC team will visit campus in the fall of 2016.

That group, known as the steering committee, is tasked with drafting a document that addresses five criteria laid out by the HLC. Its format is a slight change from the way the HLC has operated in the past, said Sandy Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor of music history.

“When we last went through this process 10 years ago, the documents provided to the commission were more narrative in style,” she said. “This time around, the steering committee is tasked with writing what’s called an assurance argument, which is more like a legal statement addressing why we meet the HLC’s criteria.”

It’s an intensive process that has been taking place since early January 2015 and includes not only the 15-member steering committee, but 28 additional sub-committee members. Each sub-committee is responsible for delving in to one of the criteria, and Yang is responsible for leading the entire process.

“My goal is to plan out project deadlines and make sure we’re actually getting things done ahead of schedule,” said Yang. “We want to be ahead of the ball, not just on the ball. That mindset gives us time to go back, review, reflect and change anything in the argument that needs amended.”

With the help of Tom Betcher, director of academic program development and liaison to the HLC, and Mandy Nolt, accreditation and assessment specialist, the committee is already well on its way to completing the assurance argument.

Yang has also implemented a blog for the campus community that helps the entire community to stay current on the reaffirmation process. 

“When Tom Mach, Ph.D., chair of the department of history and government, led the efforts for the last HLC visit in 2006-07, he put together a newsletter to keep the campus informed,” said Yang. “Ten years later, with the explosion of social media, it made sense to do a blog. People can easily access it, it’s a quick read and we were able to link it directly to the Accreditation and Assessment Services homepage on Cedarville’s website.”

While the process is extremely involved, Yang believes it’s a positive one for the University as it allows for improvements in all areas.

“We should consider assessment as a positive thing,” she said. “It allows us to find ways to make Cedarville University a better place for everyone. The process can show us what areas we are excelling in and what areas need improvements.”  

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,620 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings.