Our Call to Serve
Accountability is more than a buzzword at DCTC. In every sector of society, groups and individuals are placing an increased focus on accountability as a way to bring out the best in their organizations. For colleges and universities, both public and private, accreditation by a recognized independent commission represents accountability at the highest level. Accreditation is vital to realizing the institutional vision and mission.
A general education instructor specializing in English and computer literacy, Gayle Larson is a wellspring of knowledge when it comes to accountability and accreditation. She serves as the college’s expert on core student outcomes and assessment of student learning. She also co-chairs with Kelly Murtaugh, vice president of academic and student affairs, the college-wide effort to achieve re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
“We’ve added so many quality programs while strengthening the core values of technical education. We don’t want to be a cookie-cutter college.”
“As part of the re-accreditation process, we are preparing for a visit from the Higher Learning Commission Evaluation Team,” Larson said. “That team will be asking one overarching question: ‘Is DCTC fulfilling its mission?’”
That crucial visit takes place April 18–20, 2011, and will mark a watershed event in the history of the college. DCTC received North Central Association-Commission on Institutions of Higher Education full accreditation in 1996. In 2001, the college received HLC-NCA 10-year accreditation. The college is due for 10-year re-accreditation in 2011.
The DCTC mission then and now is to provide collegiate-level education for employment that will empower individuals to enhance their opportunities for career advancement and success in a global economy.
“I find it absolutely amazing how different the college was in 2001 compared to today,” Larson said. “We’ve added so many quality programs while strengthening the core values of technical education. We don’t want to be a cookie-cutter college.”
Larson reported that DCTC has also expanded its general education curricula, giving students and graduates a broader, smarter range of professional attributes. “Hard skills get you in the door,” she said. “Soft skills get you the job.”
“Published electronically, the Self-Study will provide wonderful information about the college and our role in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.”
An independent corporation, the HLC is a member of the NCA, which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the nation. Colleges and universities in the U.S. voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies.
Kelly Murtaugh pointed out that HLC accreditation provides valuable, external verification of the quality and integrity of DCTC academic and educational programs based on the college’s institutional mission.
Upcoming HLC Evaluation Team Visit | April 18–20, 2011
As part of the re-accreditation process, the college receives a comprehensive, three-day visit by a team of four HLC consultant-evaluators. The team will make a recommendation to the HLC before departing the campus.
DCTC prepares for the important visit by executing an internal self-analysis called a Self-Study, a three-year undertaking involving critical input and feedback from the entire college community. The analysis is founded on five essential criteria:
- Mission and integrity
- Preparing for the future
- Student learning and effective teaching
- Acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge
- Engagement and service
“We will be using the Self-Study as a springboard for strategic planning,” Murtaugh said. “Published electronically, the Self-Study will provide wonderful information about the college and our role in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.”
Murtaugh noted that the HLC re-accreditation process obliges the college to collect, organize and evaluate materials regarding what its administrators, faculty, staff and students have been doing over the last 10 years. “But more importantly,” she added, “the HLC asks us to ask ourselves where we are planning to go in the next ten.”
To learn more about the HLC visit in April 2011, please visit Higher Learning Commission: DCTC Institutional Accreditation.
- Kelly Murtaugh
Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs
Co-chair DCTC HLC Re-accreditation Committee
- Gayle Larson
General Education Instructor
Co-chair DCTC HLC Re-accreditation Committee