Dr. Todd Stewart (far-left) briefs Dr. Barbara Johnson (far-right) on the uniqueness of AFIT as a military organization with an education mission
In preparation for its ten-year accreditation reaffirmation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in 2020, the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) welcomed HLC Liaison Dr. Barbara Johnson to campus in August. Dr. Johnson has worked for HLC since 2013 and currently serves as the Vice President for Accreditation Relations. During her visit, Dr. Johnson provided expert guidance on the reaccreditation process, specifically the Assurance Argument and the Quality Improvement Project (QIP).
“During her visit to AFIT, Dr. Johnson engaged with the leadership and also received a thorough exposition of AFIT’s educational and research capabilities and activities. She has expressed her admiration of the institution’s commitment to world-class excellence in all aspects of AFIT’s academic endeavors. In-depth discussions regarding every component of the AFIT’s Higher Learning Commission reaffirmation of accreditation preparation have energized the campus community to diligently march forward with our data collection and learning assessment processes,” said Dr. Sivaguru S. Sritharan, AFIT’s Provost and Vice Chancellor.
HLC conducts an Assurance Review to determine whether an institution continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation. The institution demonstrates that it meets the Criteria for Accreditation by preparing an Assurance Argument with an Evidence File.
There are five criterion for accreditation: 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.
Committees comprised of faculty and staff from across AFIT are currently working on each criterion. They are tasked with developing assurance arguments and gathering evidence to demonstrate how AFIT is compliant with each criterion. During Dr. Johnson’s visit, she received status briefings on each criterion, answered committee questions, and provided very helpful feedback on the way forward.
Dr. Johnson also reviewed AFIT’s Quality Initiative Project (QIP). The QIP demonstrates the institution’s commitment to continuous improvement and is focused on modernizing instructional capabilities across the institute. The QIP committee is developing investment strategy guidance to address five 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. Data collection and gap analysis is complete and the final report is nearing completion.
“Dr. Johnson affirmed that AFIT is making substantial progress and is well within the timeline for completion of the final submission to HLC,” said Dr. Betsy Grimes, AFIT’s Assurance Argument Coordinator.
Following the meetings with Dr. Johnson, each committee is energized and working diligently to incorporate feedback to develop the strongest Assurance Argument possible for accreditation reaffirmation in 2020.