After visiting the campus in October and evaluating all of the supporting documentation submitted, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaffirmed Redlands Community College’s accreditation until 2030-2031.
The accreditation status determined by HLC, the regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities, is an important factor for students when selecting a college. The reaffirming of Redlands’ accreditation gives students confidence that they are receiving a high-quality education and ensures that they are attending an institution that is qualified to disperse federal financial aid.
“HLC accreditation is an in-depth, lengthy process that requires the involvement of all employees as well as the Board of Regents,” said Redlands President Jack Bryant. “Since the last accreditation visit, our staff and faculty have been working hard to make improvements in the areas where we were lacking and to demonstrate the innovation taking place in our classrooms and programs.”
The institutional review included five criteria: the mission of the college; integrity; teaching and learning; institutional effectiveness, resources and planning; and federal compliance. Overall, Redlands met all requirements; however, one area related to nursing was “met with concerns.”
“We already had plans in place to address concerns in the nursing program and will be prepared to submit an interim report in the fall to update HLC on our progress,” Bryant said. “We are implementing new curriculum, updating testing to align with the new generation NCLEX-RN test plan for 2023, and creating smaller class sizes to take advantage of limited clinical placement within healthcare facilities.”
In the past 10 years, the college has successfully addressed and rectified many issues. Significant deficiencies found during the last HLC visit, which occurred under the previous administration, were no longer problematic, most notably financial disarray, leadership/cohesiveness challenges, and a work environment which did not constantly promote best practices and integrity.
Dr. Julie Flegal-Smallwood, director of the Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions STEM grant, and Athletic Director Eli Zucksworth led the college’s HLC accreditation effort and served as liaisons with the agency.
“Due to the pandemic, the traditional on-campus visit by the HLC review team was adjusted to allow a virtual visit by team members from other states and an in-person evaluation by an Oklahoma representative,” Flegal-Smallwood explained. “We have often said that Redlands is a family, and the HLC team said that was very apparent even with the hybrid format of the visit. They were impressed with the level of involvement of campus personnel, students and the board.”
Redlands Community College will participate in the Open Pathway during the 10-year accreditation cycle, allowing the institution to select a quality initiative or project on which to focus, and fostering an environment of continuous improvement.
“It is satisfying to see the progress the college has made over the past several years, but it is all due to our faculty and staff,” Bryant said. “They take pride in this institution and our mission of providing a learner-centered environment committed to academic excellence through service and civic engagement.”