Accreditation: A Hallmark of Quality
When searching for a university, you hear a lot about the importance of picking an accredited institution. But what does that mean? Why does that matter? Walden University recently had its accreditation reaffirmed by its accrediting body, The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), for 10 more years. To find out more about accreditation, Spotlight on Walden sat down with Dr. Eric Riedel, Walden’s chief academic officer, to learn why this accomplishment is important to students, prospective students, and alumni, and where we go from here.
The Importance of Accreditation
“Accreditation is a promise of quality to the public,” explains Dr. Riedel. “It assures the public that Walden is continually looking at our programs, the quality of our students’ learning, and the integrity of our faculty and academic policies, and that we’re continually improving them.”
Prospective students considering a university should look to ensure it is accredited because it validates that the programs, and the university itself, are of high quality and offer relevant content. And Walden puts a great deal of importance on quality and upholding it.
Maintaining accreditation, however, is not an easy process. It’s involved and rigorous, taking a great deal of time and self-reflection. “Walden’s self-study took three years and many, many meetings, and the outcome is a high-quality product,” says Dr. Riedel. Completing the self-study took more than 130 faculty members, alumni, students, and staff who contributed research and many more who participated in the on-site visit from the HLC’s external review team, which included members of peer institutions, to assess Walden’s self-study and its overall commitment to quality.
The results of the site visit were overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the reviewers specifically recognized that Walden operates with the utmost integrity and embraces its unique mission of effecting positive social change through innovative and purposeful academic programs that serve students well.
“The Higher Learning Commission looked at our past history, back to our visit in 2005, and saw what we did with the recommendations that were made,” says Dr. Riedel. “We did what we said we would do. As a result, they trust us. We’ll continue our record of taking their recommendations seriously.”
Beyond the Quality
Accreditation goes beyond just the process and a designation for prospective students. Accreditation impacts current students, alumni, faculty—everyone in the university community.
“Our students want to feel like they’ve worked hard for the degree and that they’ve learned what they need to further their careers,” says Dr. Riedel. “They also want to know that their degrees are valued by employers and the public and recognized as a mark of achievement. Students want to know that once they graduate the Walden name will be meaningful one year out, five years out, 20 years out. Where you graduate follows you for the rest of your life,” he continues.
“Employers know the value of accreditation,” says Dr. Riedel. By having the name of an accredited institution on your degree, employers can be confident in the education and training you received, knowing you are prepared for the demands of the industry.
Where We Go From Here
For Walden, accreditation is not a stop-and-start process. It’s an ongoing project that demonstrates the university’s commitment to developing and delivering the highest quality degree programs possible.
“Walden started with quality standards from the day we were formed in 1970. We’ve very proud of the Walden name and want to be sure it’s associated with quality for the long term,” says Dr. Riedel.
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