Antioch University receives reaccreditation, looks toward future

By Jessica Graue Assistant Managing Editor jgraue@civitasmedia.com

December 19, 2013

YELLOW SPRINGS — Officials at Antioch University were incredibly proud and happy last week when it was announced that the university received its reaccreditation for a 10-year period.

The announcement comes at the end of a three-year process that Antioch Chief Communications Officer Matt Cookson describes as intricate.

“We started this process off three years ago. We are talking five campuses in four states. The process is much more complex,” he said.

In order to receive accreditation, the institution had to meet certain criteria that evaluated its mission, resources, conduct and effectiveness among others. The five campuses had to work together to show the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) that the university deserved the approval.

The comprehensive process included breaking into teams from each campus that included administrators, teachers, students and alumni. Each group was given a criterion component to analyze and investigate.

According to Antioch University Chancellor Felice Nudelman, this self-study of the university was not an easy task.

“You can only pull that off if you are truly one university. It re-emphasized how well we work together and how student-centered we are. The more we learned about ourselves, the more it reinforced the quality of education at Antioch University,” she said.

As an additional highlight of the reaffirmation of accreditation, Educause recently published an article in their journal about Antioch University’s innovative process and the collaboration between IT and Academic Affairs in the self-study. This is the first time Educause has published an article about accreditation. The university will get to present its self-study at the upcoming HLC annual conference.

“It was unique that our teams had to come together with the IT folks. They formed this collaboration and built this beautiful thing so Educause published us as a case. The fact that we built something that’s an exemplar is exciting,” Nudelman said.

The review team’s report that followed the site visits noted that the self-study document was comprehensive, thorough and “one of most candid [they] have ever read…[and the ]…resource room was one of the most attractive and functional sites team members had experienced.” The team members found that the individuals interviewed were extensively engaged and “very knowledgeable,” and that the campuses serve their regions through academic programs that “show a striking parallel between mission, integration, and responsiveness to the communities in which the [campus] resides.”

According to the report, the site visit team members were “impressed with qualifications and commitment of members of both the Board of Governors and Boards of Trustees.”

Even though the university has earned reaccreditation, it doesn’t mean that it’s time for administrators and professors to rest. While Nudelman was relieved and ecstatic when she formally found out about the announcement, she believes there is always something to be worked on. The next reaccreditation process will begin in seven years, but the institution wants to be prepared.

“Each year we will be creating a report and looking at ourselves. You don’t want to wait seven years. It’s like part of your DNA. We want to know who we are and who our students are,” she said.

Some future ventures of the university include the launch of Antioch University Connected, which will be a comprehensive online platform for the university. They are also going to offer new doctoral and master’s programs. In addition to reaffirming the university’s accreditation, as part of this review, the HLC removed the site-based limitations on the university’s doctoral programs and approved the institution to offer doctoral degrees in the general disciplines of leadership and change, psychology, and environmental studies.

Nudelman and Cookson both agree that it’s an important and thrilling time to be part of the Antioch University team. The changing education system will only benefit the school.

“It’s an exciting time especially when we look at our target audience of adult learners. There’s now a constant need to keep learning. It’s a good spot to be in. The traditional model of education will be there for certain students, but we are going to see a lot of different and changing models. Antioch is positioned to capitalize on those new learning models,” said Cookson.

Antioch University has been continuously accredited since 1927 and underwent its last comprehensive reaffirmation of accreditation in 2002. The university’s central administrative offices are located in Yellow Springs, and the campuses are in Keene, N.H; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Yellow Springs.

For more information about the school’s reaccreditation or any academic programs, visit its website at http://midwest.antioch.edu/.