WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is gearing up in preparation for the institution's ten-year accreditation reaffirmation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in 2020. The accreditation reaffirmation is contingent on AFIT's ability to demonstrate that it continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation, federal compliance requirements, and demonstrates a focus on continuous improvement.
Accreditation is a voluntary activity that validates the quality of an institution and evaluates multiple aspects ranging from academic offerings, governance and administration, mission, finances, and resources. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. HLC provides AFIT's institutional accreditation. Specialized accrediting bodies evaluate particular schools or programs within an institution. Several of AFIT's master's programs have specialized accreditation through the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.
According to their website, HLC " ...is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region." AFIT was first granted HLC accreditation in 1960.
As part of the reaccreditation process, AFIT will follow the HLC's Open Pathway which separates the continued accreditation process into two components: the Assurance Review (AR) and the Quality Initiative Project (QIP). This process provides the opportunity to work collaboratively to identify mission priorities, resource investment innovations, and strategic initiatives to move the institution to the next level of excellence. Aligning AFIT's institutional priorities with the Air Force's strategic priorities is at the heart of this process.
The AR documents evidence that AFIT continues to meet HLC's Criteria for Accreditation based on five core components: (1) Mission (2) Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct (3) Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support (4) Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement and (5) Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness. An HLC selected peer review team will evaluate AFIT's AR and recommend whether the institution should continue in the accreditation cycle or if additional monitoring is required.
The QIP's purpose is to demonstrate the institution's commitment to continuous improvement. The goal of AFIT's QIP is to create a detailed, executable investment strategy for modernizing instructional capabilities. The QIP Steering Committee, led by Maj Christina Rusnock, has defined 5 thrust areas: (1) Classroom and teaching laboratory design, functionality, and utilization (2) E-learning technologies for resident and distance delivery (3) Faculty and Staff development programs and support infrastructure (4) Infrastructure to support advanced instructional technology capabilities and (5) Organizational structures, policies, processes, procedures, and strategic vision to support effective teaching.
AFIT's Provost and Academic Dean, Dr. Sivaguru S. Sritharan, leads the reaffirmation process. " Maintaining our HLC accreditation is critical to AFIT because it validates the institution's commitment to continuous improvement of all aspects of academic and operational matters, top caliber faculty and high quality and defense relevance of our curricular offerings, unique nature of our faculty and student research with regards to addressing air force and defense critical scientific and technical challenges and to sustain our international reputation as one of the foremost defense universities in the world," commented Dr. Sritharan.
AFIT is committed to upholding its academic reputation within the higher education arena and achieving HLC reaffirmation of accreditation in the year 2020 is at the top of institutional priorities for the coming years.