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story.lead_photo.caption The Higher Learning Commission recently reaffirmed the accreditation of William Woods University. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

After turning 150 years old during 2020, William Woods University is starting off year number 151 with a positive review from the Higher Learning Commission the national accreditor for institutions of higher education like William Woods.

After a three-year preparation process and an October visit from a committee of reviewers from the Higher Learning Commission, William Woods has officially been granted continued accreditation, matching the same conclusion reached by HLC during its last review of WWU in 2016.

"We could not be more pleased with this latest positive review from HLC, which confirms that William Woods remains poised to continue our impressive upward trajectory as a university," William Woods President Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett said.

Like other colleges and universities, WWU is subject to regular reviews by an accreditor to ensure the university continues to meet the criteria for accreditation. The Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission serves institutions based in a nineteen state region and reviews institutions over a ten-year cycle.

Every HLC institution is judged on five categories, including the following:

Understanding the university's mission

Acting with integrity

Providing a quality learning experience

Evaluating and improving programs

Developing resources, structures, and processes that serve the university's needs, both now and in the future

William Woods was officially granted continued accreditation with no concerns in any of the five categories following HLC's October visit, just as it was in 2016.

"It is always quite satisfying when a university engages in an HLC review and comes out with no follow-up or areas or concern," said Dr. Michael Westerfield, recently retired vice-president for institutional research at WWU who oversaw the review process for the university. "It is an achievement that any institution would be most proud of."

In his higher education career, Westerfield amassed considerable expertise in accreditation, reviewing more than 65 other colleges for HLC. He led a process at William Woods that began planning for this milestone in the fall of 2017 by holding campus-wide meetings, appointing committees to collect information, and analyzing the university's strengths and concerns.

"The process that led up to the visit from the HLC team included leaders from all sections of the university," Westerfield said. "The team effort included numerous meetings and significant collection of evidence that William Woods University meets the criteria for accreditation. I am pleased with the work of the committee and my colleagues at William Woods."

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