Regional accreditation has been granted to more than 2500 higher education institutions throughout the United States. This accreditation must be awarded by one of six organizations, each focusing on a specific region of the country. Accreditation is recognized by the United States Department of Education and federal financial aid is available to students attending schools that are accredited.
Central Michigan University was first accredited in 1915 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools(NCA) as Central State Teachers College and has been accredited since, with the exception of 1922-23. NCA accredited the first master’s program in 1957 and approved the offering of doctoral programs in 1992. The last comprehensive NCA evaluation took place in 2005-2006, at which time CMU was accredited for 10 years. The current accrediting body is now known as NCA’s Higher Learning Commission.
The Open Pathway requires the institution to undertake a major Quality
Initiative designed to suit its present concerns or aspirations. The
Quality Initiative takes place between years 5 and 9 of the 10-year Open
Pathway Cycle. A Quality Initiative may be designed to begin and be
completed during this time or it may continue an initiative already in
progress or achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative.
The Quality Initiative is intended to allow institutions to take risks,
aim high, and if so be it, learn from only partial success or even
In 2004, CMU requested and received permission from the Higher Learning Commission to pursue the ‘special emphasis’ option in its accreditation self-study. The topic of the special emphasis, “making the transition to an institution with increased scholarship and national prominence” was explored in great depth in Chapter 8 of the 2005 self-study.
The Higher Learning Commission observations, recommendations, and comments were organized into five topic areas:
- Transforming the Institutional Cultures
- Identifying ‘Niches of Notice’s
- Identifying Indicators of Distinctions
- Leveraging Institutional Investments to Reach Prominences
- Determining Progress Steps
The Special Emphasis Committee was convened to review and communicate CMU’s progress in this area, develop a report for the Higher Learning Commission, and host their visit in October 2010.
Transforming the institution is an on-going process; the monitoring of Special Emphasis progress will therefore be a continuing priority of CMU.