CSU–Pueblo completes accreditation visit, awaits final report

Colorado State University-Pueblo completed the two-year process for a comprehensive evaluation visit February 26-28 by a team representing The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The University and its predecessor institutions have been accredited by the Commission since 1963. The six-person team reviewed and reaffirmed the institution’s ongoing ability to meet the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation, indicated it intended to recommend re-accreditation, and outlined the next steps in the process at an exit interview following completion of the visit.

For the past 18 months, a 64-person team has been conducting a self-study that analyzed the University’s progress based on the Commission’s five criteria and prepared a report of its findings according to Commission expectations. The team’s recommendations will be incorporated into other institutional activities, such as strategic planning, faculty development, and community outreach plans.

CSU-Pueblo Joseph Garcia expressed pride for a campus community that completed a majority of the work for the self-study before his arrival.

“The self-study document was of tremendous help to me when I arrived on campus because it thoughtfully and honestly described both the accomplishments and the challenges the University has faced in recent years. I was most impressed with the threads of optimism that were woven throughout the report and that I continue to see in my daily interactions,” Garcia said. “It is gratifying to hear from an external cohort that are efforts have been noteworthy, that we are headed in the right direction, and that our potential is limitless.”

HLC Team Chair Howard Ross, Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, began his remarks by complimenting University administrators for “one of the best visits he had experienced in ten years of working with the HLC.” He commended the University for its “institutional spirit” and the high-quality education the University had provided despite financial challenges along with the faculty and staff’s commitment to student success. The team sensed a “profound commitment to diversity” and enthusiasm from students about their educational experiences here.

Ross then summarized the next steps in the process, which include a review of the team’s draft and final reports. Then the final report will be submitted to the Commission, and, when approved, to the president of the university. At that point the university will be able to comment on the report, and the commentary will become part of the official documentation.

Ross described the University’s self-study process as comprehensive, with the exception of limited student participation, and the written report as being well-written, well-organized, and honest. Ross said the university’s response to the recommendations identified by the previous accreditation review in 1996-1997 was adequate in all but two categories – development of an effective marketing and enrollment management strategy and instability in administration leadership.

The team noted the inconsistency of the University’s mission and its continual struggle to stabilize and increase enrollment. Among its preliminary recommendations were integrating the recent “stretch goals” into the strategic plan, expanding distance education, coordinating class scheduling among units, and increasing collaboration with CSU in Fort Collins and other institutions in the state, especially as it relates to collaborative grant applications and research projects.

The University’s Self-Study Report, Building Excellence, may be viewed at www.colostate-pueblo.edu/hlca with a briefer Executive Summary giving the study’s conclusions and recommendations.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.