Accreditation was “best we could get”

by Karl Lang

Simpson degrees will continue to mean something in the coming years.

Simpson’s accreditation report came back, and the college passed with flying colors. Academic Dean Bruce Haddox spoke very positively about the results.

“Actually, the accreditation went very well,” he said. “We got back the final report of the team, and the final report said that we were fully accredited for the next 10 years with no follow up reports required and no visits scheduled.”

Overall, Haddox was pleased with the results.

“It was the best we could get, and it’s exactly what we wanted,” he said. “A clean report made us all happy.”

Students are also glad to hear the college has been accredited.

“It means a lot to me, as a student, that the education I’m getting is top-notch, and comparable to schools this size,” Stacy Smith, a Division of Adult Learning student, said.

Despite the success of Simpson’s accreditation, the report did suggest some areas the college could improve on – assessment programs, faculty workload and a cap for the college size.

Haddox said an area he’d like to focus on is faculty workload.

“Our faculty here works hard, just about everybody at this college works hard, and that’s OK,” Haddox said. “Working hard is good, but sometimes when you get a hundred things to do, you can’t do anything as well as you would like.”

The accreditation process started in October 2005 with a self-study that the school is required to do. The accreditation agency, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, read the self-study before coming here to evaluate the college in person. Once they filed a formal report, Simpson was officially accredited for the next 10 years.

The report covers five different areas: clear mission of the college; allocation of resources for the future; student learning and effective teaching; atmosphere of the place, research and performance; engagement of constituents of church, cultural communities, educational communities, business communities, social-service communities and alumni.

The accreditation process addressed the same areas that Simpson’s self-study had covered.

“If they discover something that you haven’t got in your self study, there are two reasons for it,” Haddox said. “One, you know it, but didn’t want to put it in there, and you weren’t being honest and that’s not good. Two, you didn’t know you had a weakness and that’s not good, because you didn’t do a thorough self-study. So, you have to be thorough and honest – and we were.”

Without accreditation, any college would be unlikely to survive, Haddox said. He said accreditation often equals respect for a small college.

“Simpson is accredited, so that means when students come to Simpson, they are coming to an accredited college, and we are looked at positively by a group of peers,” Haddox said.

The suggestions from the accreditation report will become the basis for changes in the coming years. Haddox said the new dean will have to deal with a lot of these issues, but he plans to get started on them before his or her arrival.

“The new academic dean will use the report for some of his or her initiatives,” he said. “That report will be the basis for actions in the coming years.”

The accreditation is important for students because it lets students know that their Simpson education is valuable in the outside communities.

“For the students, it means their degree means something,” Haddox said. “They should care that we were accredited cleanly, because that means the accrediting agency thinks our programs are strong and of high quality.”

Senior Carl Benskin agrees that knowing Simpson is accredited is a relief.

“I think it’s good we got accredited because then my diploma will mean something, instead of being worthless,” he said.