One of the strengths of higher education in the United States is that it is designed to provide a wide breadth of knowledge to its students. Historically, higher education has required liberal arts graduates to attain a breadth of education in many subjects, thereby broadening their knowledge of culture, religion, art, science, and human nature. In addition, there are certain behaviors and habits of mind that are presumed to differentiate the degree holder from a person without a degree. These skills and habits of mind in combination allow students to better function in society and understand their roles as citizens of this country.
A 1965 editorial in the Sterling Gazette, promoting the upcoming referendum to approve the establishment of a junior college, underlines the value placed on these skill and habits of mind that motivated the founding of Sauk Valley Community College: “It is too well known to need any emphasis here that education is one of the most essential qualities and the greatest need that a young man or young woman can possess.” (Out of the Prairie, p. 14)
This criterion asks us to articulate the “essential qualities” of a general education and provide evidence of the ways we implement them in our programs of study. It also calls for us to extend learning beyond the classroom, to recognize that learning occurs in a variety of academic and experiential contexts on campus and off campus. In addition, the criterion asks us to extend the definition of what a learner is to include not only our enrolled students, but to all of our internal constituents.
Sauk Valley Community College asserts that it fulfills the expectation of the Higher Learning Commission that the institution is consistent with its Mission in promoting a life of learning for the entire campus community: students, faculty, staff, and Board members alike.