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Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) At Richland Community College

Higher Learning Commission Mark of Affiliation

Richland Community College is proud to be a participating institution in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) since 2001. AQIP is one of three processes through which an organization can maintain its accredited status with The Higher Learning Commission (HLC). AQIP’s goal is to infuse the principles and benefits of continuous improvement into the culture of colleges and universities in order to assure and advance the quality of higher education. AQIP allows an organization to demonstrate that it meets HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation and other expectations through processes that align with the ongoing activities that characterize organizations striving continuously to improve their performance. These expectations are driven by AQIP's adopted Principles of High Performing Organizations. By sharing both its improvement activities and their results through AQIP, an organization develops the structure and systems essential to achieving the distinctive higher education mission it has set for itself — and the evidence to enable the Commission to reaffirm accreditation.

Three questions asked by AQIP and help guide our work are:
   1. Are you doing the right things?
   2. Are you doing them efficiently and effectively?
   3. How do you know?

Quality improvement principles and processes guide AQIP. Improvement activities at the institution are driven from participation in the following structured AQIP goal-setting, networking, and accountability activities:

Action Projects

Action Projects are innovative quality improvement initiatives sponsored by the College. Three to four projects are committed to annually and at least one Action Project must address "Helping Students Learn."

    Quality Council has adopted five Action Projects since October 2013:
          • Using Data for Improved Institutional Planning - Program Review
          • Assessment of Cross Disciplinary Outcomes
          • Advancing the Completion Agenda
          • Institutionalizing the Balanced Scorecard

  • Implementing a Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making

Action Project Progress Reports

Annual progress reports, submitted to the HLC each September, include: 1) progress made, based on timelines, goals and measures; 2) problems and challenges encountered; and 3) outstanding successes and discoveries made.

Systems Portfolio

The Systems Portfolio documents evidence that RCC continues to meet The Higher Learning Commission's five Criteria for Accreditation through an institutional overview of processes, results, and improvement in nine categories.

Systems Appraisal

The Systems Appraisal provides feedback from an expert, objective, third-party of RCC's strengths and opportunities for improvement in each of the nine categories as well as institutionally.

Strategy Forum

The Strategy Forum is a 3-day, intensive workshop with its goal to help institutions align Systems Appraisal feedback with institutional priorities and goals.

Comprehensive Quality Review

In 2014 the Higher Learning Commission revised the AQIP accreditation cycle and revised components of the accreditation process. The Quality Checkup will now be titled the Comprehensive Quality Review, and it will occur twice in the eight-year accreditation cycle. The Comprehensive Quality Review (previously called a Quality Checkup) is a 2-3 day site visit conducted by trained evaluators and designed to address the following:

Key Continuous Improvement Objectives

Student Cross Disciplinary Outcomes

  • Effective Communication
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Technology Proficiency
  • Professional Integrity

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

  • Using data for improvement
  • Strategy Forum Team work
    • Implementing a framework for Evidence-Based Decision-Making

Documenting and Communicating Improvements

  • Committees: Institutional Effectiveness, Quality Council, Employee Relations & Development, Academic Standards, Knowledge Management Team
  • Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) Teams, Student Learning Outcomes Assessment
  • myRichland Institutional Effectiveness

Commitment to a Quality Education to Serve Our Students

  • Four prongs of a comprehensive community college:
    • Accessibility
    • Affordability
    • Opportunity
    • Completion


More information:

    - AQIP Timeline
    - AQIP Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
    - Principles of High Performing Organizations
    - HLC Annual Conference

Additional Documents:

     - Systems Portfolio – 2009
     - Systems Appraisal – 2009


Accreditation Liaison Officer: Dr. Denise Crews
Office Location: W141
Telephone: (217) 875-7211 ext. 6250

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Richland Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs. The following person(s) has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies:
Alex Berry, Title IX Coordinator at phone 217-875-7211 EX 6314
Leanne Brooks, 504 Coordinator, at phone 217-875-7211 EX 6362
For further information on notice of nondiscrimination, visit for the address and phone number of the office that serves your area, or call 1-800-421-3481.