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Accreditation Update: AF Academy ‘all in’ for April visit

Cadets walk to class at the U.S. Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dave Ahlschwede)

By Ray Bowden, Jan. 14, 2019

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Top officials at the Air Force Academy say they’re “all in” when it comes to the school’s first accreditation visit in 10 years by the Higher Learning Commission.

“Our successful accreditation increases our ability to better serve the Defense Department and the U.S. now and into the future,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, the Academy’s dean of faculty. “The leaders of character we develop are innovative, technology and research-driven men and women who will be leaders of thought for the Air Force.”

Armacost announced the HLC’s visit, slated for April, late last year.

“Our good standing in the academic and military community enhances the trust and confidence of those who rely on us to deliver an invaluable education to their sons and daughters,” he said.

Approximately 1,000 colleges and universities are affiliated with the HLC. In the case of the Academy, the school’s accreditation rests on how well the  commission rates the quality of its mission, conduct, resources and education, among other criteria.

Colonel Shawn Campbell, 10th Air Base Wing commander, and Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, commandant of cadets, support Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s conviction that the HLC’s visit is worthy of attention by all Academy Airmen and cadets.

‘Team Ten’

“We’re fully on board with General Silveria’s ‘all in’ mentality,” Campbell said.

The 10th ABW is the host unit for the Academy and provides medical, mission and community support for a base of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel.

“We know full well everything we do is designed to ensure our fellow citizens have firm faith in our institution as an accredited place of higher learning,” Campbell said.

Some of the “everything we do” the colonel said, is providing maintenance, care and repair of all cadet facilities, including the dorms and the hundreds of academic facilities on the base — facilities the HLC will visit. The wing also provides medical care for cadets.

“I often think of us at the plane’s fuselage,” Campbell said. “If you don’t have us, the plane won’t fly,” he said.

Campbell hosted a commander’s call in December and spoke about the importance of the wing as it relates to a successful accreditation visit.

“We cannot underestimate our day-to-day responsibilities when it comes to providing these services,” he said. “Every ‘Team Ten’ Airman has a massive role in providing for an effortless and efficient accreditation visit.”

 Cadet Wing

Goodwin commands 4,000 cadets and nearly 200 Airmen and civilians. She’s responsible for character and leadership development, military training, supervising cadet activities, and providing support to facilities and logistics.

“Each member of the Cadet Wing team, including the cadets, plays an important role in accreditation by representing to the HLC the important contributions they make to our mission and how those contributions support and integrate with the developmental efforts of other mission elements,” she said. “We look forward to the accreditation visit and are excited to showcase all we do for our academy and our great Air Force.”

“The education, training, and experience we engage cadets with to be well-prepared as future officers is central to the Academy’s mission,” she said.

“Our recent efforts to capture this in the 47-month Cadet Development Plan has prepared us to demonstrate how we contribute to the overall mission of the Academy,” Goodwin said. “Accreditation is an assurance process, which examines all the varied contributions from all mission elements across the institution.”

Town Hall Meetings

Colonel Dan Uribe, head of the Academy’s Foreign Language Department, is the school’s point man for the HLC’s visit. He and other faculty members have hosted town hall meetings at the base to inform Academy staff about the process.

“Town Hall meetings have three overall objectives: raise awareness about the upcoming accreditation visit, emphasize the institutional nature of the event and give the entire Academy community an opportunity to delve a bit deeper into the argument for each accreditation criteria,” he said.

The next town hall meeting will be at the Falcon Athletic Center auditorium, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Jan. 16.

[Editor’s note: The HLC continues to invite public comment about the Academy and the accreditation visit.

“The U.S. Air Force Academy is seeking comments from the public about the Academy in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency,” the commission said in a news release late last year. “The Academy will host a visit April 29-30, from a team of peer reviewers representing the Higher Learning Commission. The team will review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet HLC’s criteria for accreditation. The U.S. Air Force Academy has been accredited by HLC since 1959. Comments must be in writing and must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs.

 “Submit comments to the HLC at hlcommission.org/comment or mail them to the address below. All comments must be received by April 1, 2019,” the release said.

Comments may be mailed to: Public Comment on the U.S. Air Force Academy, Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois, 60604-1411.]