Jan 31, 2023

Dordt University has again met the HLC standards for accreditation

Students sit at a picnic table and study together.

Dordt University has once again met the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) standards for accreditation – this time, at the highest level.

“In every category, the standards were ‘met with no concerns,’” says Dr. Leah Zuidema, vice president for academic affairs. “Our understanding is that this isn’t so common among higher education institutions.”

Having Dordt’s accreditation reaffirmed for the next 10 years is important for several reasons, says Zuidema.

“It gives our students access to federal financial aid, and it gives our alumni credibility as they pursue employment and apply to graduate programs.”

This past summer, Dordt submitted an assurance argument totaling more than 100 pages and containing nearly 400 pieces of evidence. The argument was divided into five criteria: mission, integrity, quality, assessment, and resources. Zuidema, Registrar Jim Bos, Professor of Biology Dr. Jeff Ploegstra, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Teresa Ter Haar, Professor of Education Dr. Ryan Zonnefeld, Professor of Computer Science Dr. Kari Sandouka, and recent Dordt graduate Daniel Moe were heavily involved in compiling, writing, and editing the document and its evidence.

“There is a lot of work involved in the accreditation process, and we had a great team of people working on it,” says Bos.

In addition, a site team of faculty and staff from other colleges and universities visited Dordt’s campus in early October to meet with more than 100 Dordt faculty, staff, and constituents.

“They were very thorough,” recalls Bos.

Bos, who has been through the accreditation process three times over the last 30 years, says that the accreditation process is both insightful and complex.

“Having to be accountable to an accrediting agency helps institutions like Dordt reflect on the overall operation of the institution in ways that we don’t usually do in our day-to-day work,” he says. “It lets you step back and look at the broader institution. You have to ask, ‘Is what we are doing here in alignment with our mission? Are we really doing what we say we’re doing?’”

Trying to explain in 35,000 words what makes Dordt unique while also answering prescribed questions seemed like a daunting task, but the team succeeded in their endeavor. In the 65-page accreditation report, the HLC team wrote that “Dordt is an institution that is deeply committed to its mission, and the team would like to acknowledge that this was apparent in every interaction with campus stakeholders.”

The team also highlighted the “high-quality facilities and upkeep of the campus grounds” at Dordt.

“The institution’s primary strength is its deep and abiding commitment to its mission and providing a positive and uplifting learning environment for its students,” wrote the team. “Based upon all evidence and the concurrence of the team, it is recommended that Dordt University continue in the Open Pathway.”

“It is encouraging that the visitors recognized that every person they interacted with – students, faculty, staff, and others – were exceedingly clear and in alignment with Dordt’s Christ-centered mission,” says Dr. Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt. “The evidence we provided in our report clearly showed that we are doing good work together in pursuit of that mission. I want to thank our campus leaders who crafted the report and hosted our visitors. We are grateful that Dordt has been reaffirmed for another 10 years as an accredited institution.”

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers