Hiram College is pleased to announce its continued 10-year, reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. This designation comes after a lengthy process that included a written assurance argument with input from a large number of Hiram faculty and staff and the two-day site visit from an HLC external review team in March 2020.
The HLC awarded Hiram the option to select its next accreditation pathway, including an approach called Open Pathways, which gives the College the autonomy to “pursue improvement projects that are geared toward their present concerns or aspirations.” The approval included a year-four assurance review in 2023.
The external review team report noted that Hiram has remained resilient during a time of financial and enrollment challenges, and stated that Hiram’s strength is “due in large part to the extraordinary efforts and commitment of its board, administration, staff, and faculty to maintain and advance Hiram’s reputation. Its recent institutional development enterprises have yielded notable results. It continues to enrich its students’ educational experience with both traditional and innovative strategies. And its academic programs remain strong.”
“The reaccreditation process prompts the entire campus to take a broad, introspective look at how well colleagues work together to carry out the institutional mission. In our case, that is to ‘foster intellectual excellence and social responsibility, enabling our students to thrive in their chosen careers, flourish in life, and face the urgent challenges of our times,'” said Judith Muyskens, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College. “The glowing reaffirmation we received from the Higher Learning Commission is a testament to the College’s commitment to bringing that mission to life and striving for excellence in all we do.”
Preparation for the review was a campus-wide effort led by accreditation liaison, Ellen Walker, Ph.D. and Judy Muyskens, Ph.D., who worked collaboratively with faculty and staff work groups around campus and with President Varlotta and the senior cabinet. Together, faculty, staff, and administrators authored an assurance argument that addressed five HLC criteria: Mission; Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct; Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support; Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; and Resources, Planning, and Effectiveness.
A draft of the assurance argument was made available to the entire campus for feedback before it was finalized and submitted.
As part of its report, the HLC external review team praised the College’s bold, innovative vision. “Despite the exceptionally challenging landscape for small, independent, liberal arts institutions, Hiram College has negotiated these trying times, in large part by hewing to the spirit, philosophy, and traditions of its founders; its history of providing a stimulating, rigorous liberal arts education; and its mission. As evidenced by Hiram’s assurance review and as observed by the peer review team during the campus visit, the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students have entered into a new era of Hiram College’s history with the New Liberal Arts and Urgent Questions Curriculum––a pedagogical model grounded on the college’s historical liberal arts identity but informed by a bold, forward-looking vision. Additionally, Hiram continues to see significant gains in its fundraising efforts; is improving its overall financial position and performance; and is addressing its significant enrollment challenges.”
The College’s next reaffirmation of accreditation will be in 2029-30.