Higher Learning Commission

Policy Title: Commission Public Notices and Statements

Number: COMM.A.10.010

Public Information About Regional Accreditation

The Commission will provide on its web site and in print publications information about the purposes of regional institutional accreditation, the processes used in it, and the appropriate interpretation and use of it by institutions, students, and the public.

Commission Public Notices and Statements

The Commission shall have the authority to make specific disclosures to the public regarding affiliated or applying institutions as outlined below. The Commission shall provide notification to the affected institution about the disclosure at or before, as determined by the Commission, it releases the information to the public.

Notification of Accrediting Actions. The Commission shall ensure that it properly notifies the public, state higher education agencies, the U.S. Department of Education, and accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the Commission’s accrediting actions according to the following timetable:

  1. with regard to an action to reaffirm or grant accreditation or initial candidacy or approve a substantive change or the results of monitoring, the Commission will provide notification of the action to all constituencies identified above within thirty days of the action;
  2. with regard to an action to place an institution on notice or probation or to issue a show-cause order to an institution, the Commission will provide notification of the action to state higher education agencies, the U.S. Department of Education, and recognized accrediting agencies simultaneously with the action being communicated to the institution not later than thirty days after the action, and notification to the public within 24 hours of notice being provided to the institution;
  3. with regard to an action to deny or withdraw accreditation or candidacy, the Commission will provide notification of the action to state higher education agencies, the U.S. Department of Education, and recognized accrediting agencies simultaneously with the action being communicated to the institution not later than thirty days after the action, and notification to the public within 24 hours of notice being provided to the institution;
  4. with regard to a decision by an institution to resign voluntarily from accreditation or candidacy, the Commission will provide notification of the action all constituencies identified above within thirty days of notice of the resignation being provided to the Commission through a formal letter from the president of the institution conveyed to the Commission with the approval of the institution’s governing board, as required by Commission policy on Termination of the Accreditation Relationship; and
  5. with regard to an action to approve a teach-out plan, the Commission will provide notification to appropriate specialized and professional accrediting agencies of approval of the plan not later than thirty days after the action if the teach-out includes a program accredited by such agency.

Such notification shall take place for the public through the Commission’s website and for the U.S. Department of Education, state higher education agencies, and accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education through electronic or other communication.

Adverse Actions, Sanctions, and Related Actions. The Commission will issue a Public Disclosure Notice (PDN) regarding the following actions:

  1. Adverse action including denial or withdrawal of affiliation;
  2. Sanction;
  3. Show-cause;
  4. Denial of change of control application.
  5. Designation as In Financial Distress or Under Governmental Investigation. In such cases the PDN may be about an institution or group of institutions.

The PDN shall contain information about the action, the findings of the Board associated with the action, or, for an institutional designation pursuant to the Special Monitoring policy, the findings of the Commission’s President when the designation was imposed, and the availability of appeal. In the case of adverse actions of denial or withdrawal of affiliation or moving an institution from accredited to candidate status, the PDN also shall contain within sixty days of the action official comments of the affected institution, if any, or evidence that the affected institution was given an opportunity to provide official comment.

Other Situations. The Commission may issue a Public Disclosure Notice (PDN) in other circumstances including but not limited to the following:

1. High-profile controversy(ies) at affiliated or applying institution;
2. Lawsuit against, or other investigation by another entity of, an affiliated institution;
3. Scheduled Commission advisory visit to an affiliated institution;
4. Other situation at or concerning an institution that is related to the Commission’s accrediting role.

The PDN shall contain information about the institution’s history and relationship with the Commission and other appropriate information.

Public Statements. The Commission may issue a public statement in writing or orally to correct or confirm a media report, to respond to frequent inquiries from the public, or to address other matters.


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Policy History

Last Revised: August 2016 
First Adopted: August 1996, February 1996, June 2004
Revision History: February 1998, May 2002, October 2002, June 2008, February 2010, June 2012, April 2013, August 2016
Notes: Policies combined in November 2012 – 12.4, 2.3(c), 2.3(c)1, 2.3(c)2, 2.3(c)3

Policy Number Key

Section COMM: Commission Policies

Chapter A: Commission Obligations to Institutions and the Public

Part 10: General

Related Procedures

Questions?

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