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NIU Receives High Marks on its 'Mid-Term Exam'

By NIU Staff

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Not unlike National Intelligence University graduate and undergraduate students, who feel as though they are constantly preparing for mid-terms, finals or final papers, the university itself, as an accredited institution also has to pass “exams” from time to time.

Jan. 3, 2014 — An important part of the rhythm of American higher education includes a regular accreditation cycle that is intended to help strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education and make it worthy of public confidence.

Accrediting teams of experienced professionals from other institutions are charged with taking a good hard look and providing peer evaluation on the performance of an institution. When things are going well, universities may have their accreditation reaffirmed for as long as a decade before the next full review, provided they submit a mid-term “self-study” report at the five-year mark between accreditation visits.

When things aren’t going well, the accreditors can put universities on warning, subject them to more frequent monitoring, and, if circumstances warrant, suspend or revoke accreditation.  In recent years, several well-known and well-respected schools have found themselves in the latter position.

So you can hardly blame NIU President Dr. David Ellison for taking a moment to savor the news with his staff late one afternoon in early December when the school’s accrediting body, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, “reaffirmed NIU accreditation and commended the university for the quality of its periodic review process.”

The celebration was brief. By the next morning Ellison and the NIU team were already back to work planning for the fiscal year 2016 program build, the opening of a new academic center at Quantico, Va., in 2014, and the university's move to Bethesda in 2015.