Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Review

Faculty and Staff Preparation

The HLC Accreditation Team Is Coming to Campus! November 8-10


Mission of the Higher Learning Commission

Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning


Five Criteria for Accreditation

Criterion One: Mission and Integrity

The institution operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.


Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future

The institution’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.


Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching

The institution provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.


Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

The institution promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.


Criterion Five: Engagement and Service

As called for by its mission, the institution identifies its constituencies and serves them in ways both value.

Preparation for Reaccreditation

The University of Northern Iowa will host a ten- member Peer Review Team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) this fall, November 8-10.


With the approval of the HLC, the University of Northern Iowa is participating in a customized special emphasis self-study. A special emphasis self-study allows the institution to focus attention on a particular area of interest or concern, as well as on the university as a whole. The area of focus for the study was based on the design provided by Foundations of Excellence (FoE) a program with the goal of enhancing learning by, and retention of, first-year students.


Preparations for the visit have been taking place over the past two years, as nearly two hundred faculty, staff, and students at UNI have worked to create our self-study report and to prepare the resource room for our visitors. A timeline for the preparation follows:


2008: HLC and FoE Committees made up of faculty, staff, and student volunteers established and begin collecting data and writing draft subcommittee reports.


2009: Draft of entire self-study finalized.


March-June 2010: Self-study revised based on campus input.


September 2010: Self-study report completed! Final document sent to Peer Review Team.


September-October 2010: Campus Education campaign on the importance of reaccreditation.


Are You Ready for the 2010 HLC Reaccreditation Visit?

What can faculty, staff, and students do to get ready for the HLC Peer Review Team?

  • Become familiar with UNI's mission and values statements, and consider how they impact your responsibilities and your experience at UNI.
  • Look over the self-study report, especially the strengths, areas for improvement, and challenges that have been identified.
  • Consider the contributions you are making to the University's mission, including outreach.
  • Be prepared to talk about your perceptions and your experiences with members of the reaccreditation review team should you have an opportunity to interact with one or more of the team members during the site visit.

Related Web Links

UNI’s Self-Study Report

Please look over the self-study at:


Thank you! To all of the UNI community who were involved in any way in preparations for the HLC Peer Review Team visit!

Why are HLC accreditation and the self-study important?

UNI was first accredited by the North Central Association, now known as the Higher Learning Commission, as a teacher-training institution in 1913. It has been continuously accredited as a four- year institution since 1930. The last reaccreditation evaluation took place in 2000-2001.


Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission demonstrates an institution's commitment to sustaining a high level of accountability to students and the larger community. The self-study process can play a critical role in stimulating consideration of key issues and informing the campus community about strengths and challenges, opportunities for change, and possibilities for improvement. It can help the institution identify ways to more effectively achieve its mission.


In addition:

  • An accredited institution is eligible to apply for federal grants, loans, and other federal funds, including research funds.
  • Students are eligible for federal (and in some instances state) grants and loans.
  • Students earn degrees from an accredited institution, which may be important to graduate programs or employers.
  • Students are eligible to take state licensure examinations in many professional fields.
  • Students can transfer credits to other accredited universities.
  • Employers who offer tuition assistance are more likely to
    reimburse their employees for courses taken at the University.

What happens during the HLC Peer Review Team visit?

Before the Peer Review Team comes to campus, members of the team will read the self-study report. During their visit to campus, they will meet with various groups of faculty, staff, and students representing university activities, services, and program areas. (See the accreditation homepage for the schedule.) Team members will also spend time in the accreditation resource room, set up in Gilchrist Hall, where they can review documents related to the self-study and UNI operations in general. After they have completed their visit, the team will provide an oral report of their findings and recommendations. A more detailed written report will be submitted to the Higher Learning Commission for final actions related to reaccreditation.