We are living in a time when innovation is embraced as a necessary tool in American higher education. Our work will lead toward a stronger system of postsecondary education, with accountability and a measurable return on investment for the public, lawmakers, families, and the most important stakeholder: the student.
As colleges and universities innovate, they build upon relationships within their communities. Students who achieve their dreams, companies who invest in their future – both result in a partnership between employer and employee. This synergy contributes to growth within our society.
As accreditors, we must be positioned to endorse the innovation. How do we help guarantee that students and companies can work toward their goals through the institutions of higher learning if the institution is doing something that hasn’t been tried before?
One way is that accreditors are constantly evaluating and updating the standards of quality to incorporate the continuous improvements in higher education that occur as part of a diverse, technological, globally-connected world.
As part of the Triad (federal government, state government, and accreditors), we work to align with the other arms of the Triad, so as to not to contradict each other. We look for ways to be more efficient, to find opportunities for innovation at institutions that include safeguards for students.
Today, we are working to be a partner for the future as the higher education industry transforms. The Higher Learning Commission is looking at ways to provide safe environments for innovation, shift processes to be more agile, and examine how accreditation must evolve to be effective during and after the industry’s transformation.
Accreditors are ready. Let’s innovate!
Barbara Gellman-Danley serves as chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissioners and president of the Higher Learning Commission.