Sauk Valley Community College has undertaken a comprehensive self-study in keeping with the requirements of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC). The study was conducted to achieve six goals, which charged the entire institution to participate in a self-evaluation of the college in order to improve services and achieve reaffirmation of accreditation. The study, which began in FY08, culminates in this report and in preparation for a comprehensive evaluation visit on September 19-21, 2011. A research group of 55 volunteers evaluated the college against a set of five HLC criterion, providing evidence that the college complies with these requirements. The findings were presented to the whole campus for review, discussion, and action.
Presented in this report are the results of the study, which show Sauk to be a distinctive organization that values learning and serves the surrounding community through carrying out its Mission. Responses to concerns expressed by the 2002 HLC Reaffirmation of Accreditation Peer Review Team and by the 2006 Focused Visit Team show that the college has continued to improve in the years since these visits. A profile of the Sauk district describes the changing economic context in which the college operates, including the shift in the community from manufacturing to service employment, declining population, and increase in poverty levels.
The areas where Sauk can continue to improve are also clearly identified so that the consultant-evaluators on the HLC Peer Review Team may offer feedback and suggestions for the benefit of the college. Throughout the report, the various self-study committees note the discoveries they made and the conclusions they drew about the institution, its internal and external constituencies, and its strengths and weaknesses in providing services. In some cases, improvements were immediately accomplished; in others, an appropriate response is underway. An institutional self-evaluation appears in the final section of the report. Several directions are identified as important as the college moves into the future, including an increased focus on professional development, broader availability of some kinds of data across the institution, and further alignment of college operations with the Strategic Directions.
Although the study revealed areas where improvement is needed, it also demonstrated that Sauk has much strength upon which to build. Strengths of the college are discussed in conjunction with four themes identified by the HLC as important values: Future-Oriented; Distinctive; Learning Focused; and Connected. The self-study revealed that the college acts on these values through many of its priorities, policies, and practices.