Criterion One: Mission and Integrity
The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.
Co-Chair: Mike Taylor | email@example.com | 230-5182 | AH214
Co-Chair: Vikita Hardwrick | firstname.lastname@example.org | 230-5028 | FO110B
Julia Hall | email@example.com | 230-5363 | MB130
Beverly Quillin | firstname.lastname@example.org | 230-5579 | FO307B
Brett Serviss | email@example.com | 230-5158 | RE210
Celya Taylor | firstname.lastname@example.org | 230-5232 | ED251
Criterion One: Core Component 1a
The organization’s mission documents are clear and articulate publicly the organization’s commitments.
What is clear in this age of marketing is that a tagline or slogan cannot by itself define an organization’s multifaceted mission. It might be valuable for every student, faculty member, and administrator to be able to repeat a concise, pithy mission statement, but the best of those statements usually open a variety of operational possibilities. Only through other statements of vision, values, and goals can an organization provide some structure and priority to decision making.
The governing board formally adopts the mission documents of the organization. Those documents contain the goals for which the organization is willing to be held accountable.
Effective organizations revisit their mission documents frequently, assuring that they are dynamic and current as well as clear and understood. As external environments shift, so also might some definitions of core commitments, or the vision for the organization may shift with new leadership.
The organization’s Web site, catalog, student and faculty handbooks, and recruitment and marketing materials might be the most useful places to make these documents readily available to the public. They may also exist in a variety of other formats. What is important is the ease with which internal and external constituencies have access to the documents and can understand them. The proposed types of evidence for this Core Component not only illustrate the challenge of clarity and availability, but also identify some other expectations of their contents, particularly organizational commitment to high academic standards and to assessment of achieved learning.
Examples of Evidence
● The board has adopted statements of mission, vision, values, goals, and organizational priorities that
together clearly and broadly define the organization’s mission.
● The mission, vision, values, and goals documents define the varied internal and external constituencies
the organization intends to serve.
● The mission documents include a strong commitment to high academic standards that sustain and
advance excellence in higher learning.
● The mission documents state goals for the learning to be achieved by its students.
● The organization regularly evaluates and, when appropriate, revises the mission documents.
● The organization makes the mission documents available to the public, particularly to prospective and
Criterion One: Core Component 1b
In its mission documents, the organization recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves.
The Commission pledged that the new accrediting standards would engage organizations in conversations fundamental to their future. What is known for certain about the future of higher education in the United States is that it will have to be responsive to increasing numbers of students of diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and that it will have to prepare its students to live productively in a national and global society marked by extraordinary diversity.
Because attention to diversity is fundamental to quality higher learning in the twenty-first century, the Commission expects every organization to address diversity in its mission documents. The premises undergirding this position are found in the Commission’s Statement on Diversity.
Diversity is a complex concept. For some organizations, ethnic and racial representation on campus, in educational programs, or in faculty and administration might be very important, particularly if their mission is to serve communities marked by ethnic and cultural diversity. For many organizations serving educational needs of rural or homogeneous communities, recognition and understanding of the impact of diversity may be more important than representation. For other organizations, particularly those that are faith-based, diversity might mistakenly be understood to mean acceptance and tolerance. The Commission acknowledges the importance of distinct cultural contexts and, therefore, recognizes the importance that organizations attach to being able to define themselves in ways that are unique to their existence and respective missions. With its expectation that even these organizations acknowledge the importance of diversity, the Commission asks that all organizations be transparently clear in their statements of expectations of college constituencies, fair in their enforcement of those expectations, and protective of the dignity of individuals whose behavior or beliefs may not always fit those expectations.
Examples of Evidence
● In its mission documents, the organization addresses diversity within the community values and common
purposes it considers fundamental to its mission.
● The mission documents present the organization’s function in a multicultural society.
● The mission documents affirm the organization’s commitment to honor the dignity and worth of
● The organization’s required codes of belief or expected behavior are congruent with its mission.
● The mission documents provide a basis for the organization’s basic strategies to address diversity.
Criterion One: Core Component 1c
Understanding of and support for the mission pervade the organization.
Unless all its internal constituencies understand and support the fundamental mission, even the most beautifully crafted mission documents will fail to count for much. This is especially true in this era of significant change and restructuring within higher education. Confusion about mission inevitably leads to disagreements on priorities, to not meeting students’ expectations, and to decision making shaped more by the opportunities of the day than
by a clear vision of the organization and its future.
Most successful organizations engage their constituents in the creation, review, and revision of basic mission documents. Most provide programs, materials, and orientations to ensure the creation of a common interpretation of mission documents. Most can also point to the key role the mission documents have played in stimulating new initiatives, creating priorities, and informing seminal decisions about allocations of time, energy, and resources.
Examples of Evidence
● The board, administration, faculty, staff, and students understand and support the organization’s mission.
● The organization’s strategic decisions are mission-driven.
● The organization’s planning and budgeting priorities flow from and support the mission.
● The goals of the administrative and academic subunits of the organization are congruent with the
● The organization’s internal constituencies articulate the mission in a consistent manner.
Criterion One: Core Component 1d
The organization’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the organization to fulfill its mission.
Beyond a common understanding of and support for the mission, the organization must have structures through which decisions are made, responsibilities assigned, and accountability for end results established. Shared governance has been a long-standing attribute of most colleges and universities in the United States. Whatever the governance and administrative structures, they need to enhance the organization’s capacity to fulfill its mission. While each college and university needs people with many different skills and talents, each also needs leadership capable of creating an environment in which the use of those skills and talents furthers the organization’s mission. Capable board leadership understands the boundaries of board responsibility; effective executive leadership appreciates the need for teamwork; strong faculty leadership helps create a faculty culture supportive of the organization’s goals; and good student leadership understands that the organization exists for future as well for current students. Effective leadership inevitably involves as much vision as technique, as much appreciation for the contributions of others as defined power, and as much capacity for creative compromise as ultimate authority. There is a difference between an organization that is offering higher education and a business that is selling a consumer product. Higher education is not indoctrination; nor is it training. It is an enterprise in which qualified professionals first determine what students should know and be able to do as a result of their education and then create processes to determine that students actually know and can do these things. It also seeks to equip people to be self-motivated and self-sustaining learners throughout their lives. It is to fulfill this very critical set of goals that
colleges and universities create structures to enable their achievement.
Examples of Evidence
● Board policies and practices document that the board’s focus is on the organization’s mission.
● The board enables the organization’s chief administrative personnel to exercise effective leadership.
● The distribution of responsibilities as defined in governance structures, processes, and activities is
understood and is implemented through delegated authority.
● People within the governance and administrative structures are committed to the mission and appropriately
qualified to carry out their defined responsibilities.
● Faculty and other academic leaders share responsibility for the coherence of the curriculum and the
integrity of academic processes.
● Effective communication facilitates governance processes and activities.
● The organization evaluates its structures and processes regularly and strengthens them as needed.
Criterion One: Core Component 1e
The organization upholds and protects its integrity.
Integrity is a concept with multiple interpretations. When applied to an organization, it can be understood to refer to
● The honesty of the organization in its operations
● The congruence between what an organization’s mission documents say the organization is about and what it actually does
● The reputation of the organization
● The fairness with which it interacts with internal and external constituencies
● The practice of knowing and abiding by relevant laws and regulations
The Commission proposes that all these interpretations of integrity should inform an organization’s self-evaluation and a team’s review.
The tremendous diversity in organizations providing higher education degrees is a given in the United States. As we move farther into the twenty-first century, the structures of those organizations will become increasingly complex and increasingly flexible; increasingly reliant on partnerships, consortia, and collaborations to provide quality higher learning in an age transformed by technology; increasingly driven to respond to unanticipated and different opportunities to provide education to new and changing populations of students; and increasingly required to provide education relevant to a global society.
What were understood to be hallmarks of institutional integrity just a couple of decades ago are no longer sufficient. Then, integrity frequently was connected with accurate representation of programs and policies, with concepts of institutional autonomy, and with the capacity to make decisions with little undue influence from society. Now organizational integrity is vastly more complicated, with as many issues related to relationships among internal constituencies as to relationships with broader communities of interest. Maintenance of integrity is more than just following the advice of legal counsel, although increasingly that voice must be heard. Essentially, an organization’s definition of integrity must be shaped by the values it affirms for itself as it defines its roles with its multiple constituencies.
Examples of Evidence
● The activities of the organization are congruent with its mission.
● The board exercises its responsibility to the public to ensure that the organization operates legally, responsibly, and with fiscal honesty.
● The organization understands and abides by local, state, and federal laws and regulations applicable to it (or by laws and regulations established by federally recognized sovereign entities).
● The organization consistently implements clear and fair policies regarding the rights and responsibilities of each of its internal constituencies.
● The organization’s structures and processes allow it to ensure the integrity of its cocurricular and auxiliary activities.
● The organization deals fairly with its external constituents.
● The organization presents itself accurately and honestly to the public.
● The organization documents timely response to complaints and grievances, particularly those of students.