Last year students and faculty met with a peer review committee to examine whether or not Rocky Mountain College’s “goals are soundly conceived, its educational programs are intelligently devised, its purposes are being accomplished, and that the institution is so organized, staffed, and supported that it should continue to merit confidence.” Some students may not remember this, or even know what it means, but it is very important. It was this committee’s findings that led to the reaccreditation of RMC in the spring.
The peer review committee consisted of several professors and executives from other colleges who belong to the same accrediting organization, The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The NWCCU is one of the organizations that give a college significance through accreditation. Accreditation liaison and Academic Vice President Steve Germic said, “Accreditation is what makes degrees from any college or university meaningful. Withoutaccreditation, credits do not transfer and no graduate school or informed employer would look twice at an application,” when asked about why accreditation is important.
Continued membership in the NWCCU is dependent on rigorous evaluation standards. According to their website, institutions wishing to maintain accreditation must submit an annual report, “Year One” report, and a “Year Three” report. Finally, an institution must submit a “Year Seven” comprehensive self-study and be subject to evaluation by a committee of peers.
Last year RMC underwent its Year Seven evaluation. This was particularly important to the college because this Year Seven evaluation is the most comprehensive and largely determines whether or not a college will lose its status. According to Dr. Germic, RMC received a very favorable evaluation and the administrative and executive staff could not be more pleased, which is good news for students. He also added that they were pleased with the committee’s “commendation on the spirit of teamwork that pervades the College.” The peer review commission also noted in its Year Seven Evaluation Report, dated May 1st, 2015, that RMC exhibits an “extraordinarily supportive environment.”
RMC’s re-accreditation is good news for students for two reasons: One, they belong to a community that is “extraordinarily supportive” and “pervaded by a spirit of teamwork.” Two, students can count on their degrees meaning something in the real world. When they go on to professional careers or graduate school their degrees do signify something, as Dr. Germic noted.
However, according to the seven year cycle, RMC is due for another review this spring. Dr. Germic stated that, “The year one evaluation is an opportunity to revisit our mission, core themes, and institutional objectives. The entire process occurs on a seven-year cycle, so we don’t get much of a break, but we look forward to the reflection and improvements that the entire process engenders.” In particular, in their report the peer review commission asked the college to re-evaluate how it measures its progress on each of its core theme objectives before the next Year Seven evaluation.
In short, the students of Rocky Mountain College can be comforted by last year’s evaluation. Their work at RMC will mean something when they graduate, and they are surrounded by supportive administration, staff, and faculty who worked very hard to make sure that that remains true. However, as the cycle goes, it is time for those employees of the college to begin preparing for the next Year Seven evaluation in the spring of 2022.