Bradley has been preparing for a visit from the Higher Learning Commission.
Every 10 years the accreditation committee visits Bradley’s campus to make sure it meets the criteria of an accredited university, Director of Institutional Improvement Jennifer Gruening said.
She said Bradley gets ready for these visits at least two years in advance by creating a self-study process.
During this process a group of 66 faculty members, staff and administration work together to identify areas of improvement and maintenance.
The members of this group are chosen by the Dean of Liberal Arts and Science Department Claire Etaugh and are key individuals of the faculty.
The accreditation committee checks to make sure the university is following the five criteria necessary for all universities to remain accredited, Gruening said.
Part of these criteria is the mission and integrity, in which the committee makes sure Bradley has a mission statement and does its best to follow it. Preparing for the future through budgeting and enrollment is a standard to follow, as well as student learning and teacher development, Gruening said. The other criteria include preparing for application of knowledge and engagement in service. The committee is looking for examples of how well Bradley contributes to the community and prepares students for their lives after college and their careers, she said.
A group of roughly 10 faculty members are assigned to each criteria, and it is their responsibility to make sure that area runs smoothly, Gruening said.
In addition, questionnaires were handed out to faculty members not related to this project asking what they believe needs improvement.
“These questionnaires are due in October, and it will take us around a few weeks to gather all the data we need,” Gruening said. “Then we will know what we need to work on.”
Gruening said she thinks the process of getting ready for accreditation is very important to Bradley.
“It’s an extremely valuable process,” she said. “It helps us gain an understanding of where we are compared to where we want to be. Accreditation helps us improve how we appear to prospective students and the community, and makes us accountable to the standards set by current students.”
Sophomore advertising major Bronson Good said he agrees.
“Attending an accredited university is very important to me,” he said. “I think prospective employers look at things like what school you’ve graduated from and its reputation. It’s part of the reason why I chose to attend Bradley.”
Gruening said being an accredited university is an important aspect of Bradley.
“Being accredited is the reason why our students are available to receive financial aid,” she said.
She said Bradley has already improved from the last time the Higher Learning Commission visited.
“Since then we’ve joined the Academy for Assessment of Student Learning, which demonstrates our commitment to working on a university-wide assessment system and helps us prepare with our accreditation efforts,” she said.