At the November 1st, 2018 meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Wyoming Catholic College was granted initial accreditation—that is, the first full accreditation status possible after a four-year candidacy period.
HLC’s trustees accepted the recommendations of both the site team that visited Wyoming Catholic in March 2018 and of the Institutional Actions Council that met with a panel of the College’s administrators in July 2018. “We’re delighted at this news,” said Dr. Glenn Arbery, the College’s president. “This is an explicit endorsement from an external evaluating body, and it proves that we are, in fact, providing our students with the exceptional education that we have long claimed to offer. It is a strong affirmation of our stability, and yet another sign of our growing stature in the world of Catholic higher education. Our entire College community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, Wyoming citizens, and donors— should be proud of this result.”
The decision follows an HLC site visit in March 2018, when a five-member evaluation team met with faculty, staff, students, board members, alumni, and community leaders. The evaluation team also reviewed a 30,000-word self-study with thousands of pages of evidence developed by the College community over the last year-and-a-half (headed up by Wyoming Catholic College’s Accreditation Liaison Officer, Mrs. Jennifer Westman, and by its Faculty Accreditation Editor, Dr. Kent Lasnoski).
During its visit, the HLC team affirmed that the College has demonstrated that it met all core components for accreditation. Among the many strengths cited by the site team evaluators were the College community’s fidelity to and knowledge of its institutional mission, the strength of its shared governance practices, improvements in assessment of student learning, a well-developed and collaborative budgeting process, and retention and graduation rates (significantly higher than national averages). These strengths were further affirmed by the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council at its meeting in July 2018, leaving this approval from HLC’s Board of Directors as the last step in the accreditation process.
“When the College first opened its doors,” said President Arbery, “the Founders knew that obtaining accreditation would be an important step towards institutional legitimacy. This decision will have a definite impact—both on our admissions efforts going forward and on the lives of our current students and alumni. The College’s credits will now be accepted at universities, which will allow our graduates easier access to graduate programs. This is indeed an exciting day in the history of the College,” he continued, “and the fruit of a great deal of hard work and sacrifice by the College’s faculty, staff, and students. We are grateful to the Higher Learning Commission and to its trustees for their hard work and careful examination—and especially grateful for their decision.”
Employers often verify the accreditation of a college or university before they will pay for tuition or fees as part of a company-sponsored benefits program. Attending a regionally accredited institution is an important consideration for a student hoping to pursue graduate studies. Regionally accredited colleges and universities typically only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions. The Higher Learning Commission, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, is one of six accrediting bodies in the United States that provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis. It accredits more than 1,000 institutions of higher education in a 19-state region—now including Wyoming Catholic College.