Instructors face accreditation requirement

Shari Johnson

Board in process:

Trustees listen to of program review.

 

Some faculty at Laramie County Community College may need to obtain 18 graduate credits by Sept. 1, 2017, in order meet accrediting requirements.

As of Oct. 1, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the regional accrediting agency for LCCC, is requiring all instructors who teach degree-seeking courses, including high school teachers who predominately only have bachelor’s degrees and teach concurrent enrollment courses, to earn 18 credits specializing in their specific field.

For example, if an instructor has a master’s in business administration but no marketing coursework, that instructor would not be accredited to teach that subject. The instructor would first have to earn 18 credits.

For the position of many instructors, their only option to earn these additional credits is online coursework, and “a lot of (the University of Wyoming) is still not online,” said Leah Noonan, president of Faculty Senate.

Additionally, any instructor who teaches classes that transfer to another institution has to have a master’s degree in their coursework that must include 18 graduate level credit hours in the field, Noonan said.

This mandate excludes technical courses like welding, auto body, networking and Microsoft Office applications, however, it is not exclusive to LCCC, but includes every college in Wyoming and the regional area, which could be a “huge hardship for smaller colleges…because trying to find faculty with the credentials is difficult,” Noonan said.

If HLC finds LCCC faculty is not in compliance, Noonan said the college has three months to devise a plan that would get all faculty within compliance within the next two years.

During a Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 2, LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer said the purpose of HLC’s initiative is to “clarify and reinforce standards” and “improve practices,” and both he and Vice President of Academic Affairs Terry Harper set up a committee to create the framework for a handbook that Harper said will be a “great tool to help see in black and white what degree they need to possess to teach a certain course.”

Schaffer said the president’s cabinet is working on defining a policy and procedure, however, “the only place this will be tested is when we actually have HLC evaluators come to campus…and some of that is going to be contingent on the evaluator and their interpretation of these things.”
“It’s not so blunt as to say it’s one-size-fits-all, but what it does say is that there’s an expectation that the administration can demonstrate through policy and procedure that you have evaluated faculty qualifications to teach within their fields predominately using credentialing, but where we use experience we have a very clear and robust testing for that…and making that articulation,” Schaffer said.


In other news from the Dec. 2 trustees meeting:

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