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The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has announced that the accreditation of East Central College has been reaffirmed. 

As an institution participating in the HLC’s Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), East Central’s accreditation was reaffirmed for seven years, the maximum time under AQIP rules. 

The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation founded in 1895 and one of six regional institutional accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  The Higher Learning Commission’s authority extends to colleges and universities in nineteen states. 

“This recognition from our regional accreditation commission is an important affirmation of our institutional strength and quality,” noted ECC President Ed Jackson.  He also remarked that regional accreditation is important to ECC students.  “Accreditation determines our eligibility for participation in federal and state financial aid programs and is essential for the acceptance and transfer of college credit to four-year colleges and universities.”

This was East Central College’s first reaffirmation of accreditation under the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) developed by the Higher Learning Commission.  East Central College was accepted as an AQIP institution in 2004. 

Continuous quality improvement is the hallmark of the AQIP process, which requires that the institution constantly evaluate its processes, define strategic goals, and implement action projects to achieve those goals.  In lieu of the traditional self-study, AQIP institutions construct a systems portfolio that delves into all aspects of the college’s operations, with a particular focus on student learning.  A quality check-up visit by peer educators is also a crucial part of the AQIP cycle to validate the portfolio and provide any feedback that might assist the institution in its quality improvement efforts. 

The AQIP process requires widespread faculty and staff participation.  John Hardecke, chair of the English, Foreign Language and Philosophy Division of East Central College, leads the campus AQIP efforts.  “While we are delighted to learn of our reaffirmation of accreditation, we are keenly aware that our obligation to quality improvement never ends,” said Jackson.

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