Higher Learning Commission 

Rend Lake College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional accreditors in the United States. Accreditation is vital to what we do. It serves as a measure of quality, allows us to access and distribute federal student aid, facilitates the transfer of classes between institutions and more. The Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. HLC determines an institution’s accreditation based on its five Criteria for Accreditation.

There are various methods, or Pathways, through which an institution may maintain accreditation. Rend Lake College is on HLC’s Open Pathway. This involves the preparation of an Assurance Argument to prove the manner in which the college meets the five criteria. In addition, Open Pathway institutions such as RLC must select a Quality Initiative project (see below). A report on this must be compiled and submitted prior to the Assurance Argument submission. Finally, an evaluation team from HLC will visit campus Sept. 24-25, 2018.

Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504
Phone: (800) 621-7440 / (312) 263-0456
Fax: (312) 263-7462

Quality Initiative

In 2014, Rend Lake College piloted our First Year Experience program as its focus for the Quality Initiative. 

pdfbutton RLC Quality Initiative Proposal

news icon New orientation project named HLC Quality Initiative Project

news icon RLC staff shares details of the First Year Experience program at the HLC Annual Conference

news icon FYE Orientation classes wrap up service projects

news icon FYE Orientation classes deliver "Flat Stanley" to local grade schools  


While it is a voluntary process, regional accreditation is crucial for colleges and universities. The Higher Learning Commission is one of six regional accreditors officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditors such as HLC evaluate the quality of academic institutions. Through accreditation, colleges and universities are able to offer federal financial aid in the form of grants and loans. More information about accreditation is available from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

In addition to regional accreditation, some Rend Lake College programs have specialized, or programmatic, accreditations as well. Other programs also are approved by other entities.

Program Accreditations


FAQ & Links

What is the Higher Learning Commission?

The Higher Learning Commission is the regional accrediting organization for degree-granting institutions incorporated in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virgina, Wisconsin, Wyoming, or federally authorized sovereign nations that are authorized (licensed) by the same state or nation to award higher degrees (associate, baccalaureate, master's, first professional and / or doctoral degrees (both research and professional)). (2012) As stated on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.

Why is accreditation important?

The Higher Learning Commission is responsible for assuring that colleges and universities in its area meet set standards defined by the five Criteria for Accreditation. Accreditation is an assurance to the public than an institution is doing its job properly. Accreditation lends respect to Rend Lake College’s degrees and certificates, facilitates the transfer of credits to other institutions and affords the college’s access to financial aid and various funding opportunities.

How long as RLC been accredited by HLC?

Rend Lake College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1969.

Helpful Links

Higher Learning Commission

U.S. Department of Education

Council on Higher Education Accreditation



Rend Lake College’s philosophy outlines the manner in which the college fulfills its mission:

The College is committed to offering programs and services of the highest quality that are affordable to its constituents. The College will maintain a student-friendly atmosphere, making its services as accessible as possible. Courses and programs offered by the College will be transferable or lead to attractive employment opportunities. The College will provide these programs and services in an effective manner while maintaining financial responsibility.


Rend Lake College provides educational opportunities across cultural and economic boundaries to the diverse student population we serve. We are committed to our students’ success in achieving their educational goals and to meeting our community-focused program objectives. With Rend Lake College, student journeys start here.

Institutional Outcomes

Rend Lake College has adopted four essential learner outcomes, fundamental learning objectives embedded in every program of study, that all degree-completing students should be able to demonstrate. They are as follows:

Critical Thinking: Demonstrate the ability to think in a self-directed, reflective manner when understanding, evaluating and solving problems.

Problem-Solving: Demonstrate the ability to resolve computational problems.

Oral Communication: Demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through verbal and non-verbal language.

Written Communication: Demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through written language.

General Education Statement

To be educated and worthy of a diploma is not only a mastery of one discipline area or technical skill, but also includes learning a broad range of knowledge and skill sets. General Education is one way in which students prepare to function in a diverse and changing world. Upon graduation, a degree-completing student will be expected to demonstrate the competencies outlined in the college’s mission and by the student’s respective program outcomes as well as the following:


It is important for students to have a knowledge base from a variety of disciplines. In addition to demonstrating an understanding of the fundamental concepts and vocabulary of their specific programs, degree-completing students will demonstrate basic and broad knowledge of science, social science, math and the arts.


With a broad-based knowledge, students should have specific skills. In addition to the institutional outcomes of effective oral and written communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, degree-completing students will demonstrate an understanding of the modes of discovery, co-operate as a member of a team to complete assignments and use applicable technology proficiently.


In an evolving global society, students will benefit from the ability to formulate their own values while remaining open-minded to the views of others. Degree-completing students will demonstrate an awareness of a wide range of perspectives as well as have opportunities to appreciate and understand the fine arts and to explore individual values in a multi-cultural world.

Who We Are and Who We Serve

Who We Are

The college history and other background documents define the college from the perspective of organization and assets; however, the personnel that operate within the college systems and manage those assets are the primary element for successful education. Rend Lake College believes that all employees, regardless of their job description, are part of each student’s education. Administrative, community outreach, student service, and physical plant personnel all support the student learning process. Our instructors are primary points of contact with the Rend Lake College educational experience. These educators are generally organized into five divisions: Allied Health; Applied Science & Technology; Community & Corporate Education; Liberal Arts; and Math & Sciences. Whether in a supporting role or as a direct point of contact, each college employee draws upon professional expertise and academic accomplishment in the hope of success for every student.

Who We Serve

Student-centered colleges are best defined by who they serve. An understanding of the distinctiveness of our college’s student population allows us to effectively meet the goals of our programs and succeed in our mission.

Diversity of Culture

Traditionally, Rend Lake College can be characterized as serving a relatively homogenous rural, small town culture. This population’s cultural distinctiveness was centered on age and socio-economic status more than diverse ethnic origin. As Rend Lake College has broadened its programs and the mobility of Americans has diversified the ethnic origin of district students, the college recognizes that many cultural distinctions are found in our student population:

• Age • Race/ethnicity
• Gender
• Socio- Economic status
• Disability

Diversity of Purpose

Rend Lake College provides general education to traditional and non-traditional students who will transfer to universities after their first two years. We provide training to those wishing to learn a skill or trade that will ensure gainful employment and economic success. We also serve those wishing to find personal fulfillment and growth by taking community and general education classes at Rend Lake College. Often, a student’s purpose for attending is a combination of all of these:

• General education, Transfer
• Community Education
• Career-Technical Transfer, Certification, Retraining
• Personal Growth

Diversity of Origin

The majority of the student population we serve is comprised of in-district, on-campus traditional and non-traditional students; however, reciprocal agreements, state-wide educational programs, expansion of our dual-credit high school classes and international recruitment in our athletic programs have increased the scope of origin of our students:

• In-District High School Dual Credit Students
• Out-Of-District Students
• International Students
• Traditional & Non Traditional Students
• Special Populations

Common Outcome

Regardless of the diverse cultural backgrounds, purposes and origins of our students, Rend Lake College serves each student equally with its open admission policy and an equal opportunity for success. Furthermore, the shared commitment by student, faculty and staff to meet all the expected institutional, general education and program objectives unifies all those that Rend Lake College serves.


Criteria for Accreditation

Criterion One


Criterion Statement:
The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Core Component 1A:
The institution’s mission is broadly understood within the institution and guides its operations.

Core Component 1B:
The mission is articulated publicly.

Core Component 1C:
The institution understands the relationship between its mission and the diversity of society.

Core Component 1D:
The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good.

Criterion Two


Criterion Statement:
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Core Component 2A:
The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.

Core Component 2B:
The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships.

Core Component 2C:
The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity.

Core Component 2D:
The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

Core Component 2E:
The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, students and staff.

Criterion Three

Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

Criterion Statement:
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Core Component 3A:
The institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education.

Core Component 3B:
The institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs.

Core Component 3C:
The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

Core Component 3D:
The institution provides support for student learning and effective teaching.

Core Component 3E:
The institution fulfills the claims it makes for an enriched educational environment.

Criterion Four

Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement

Criterion Statement:
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

Core Component 4A:
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs.

Core Component 4B:
The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning.

Core Component 4C:
The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational improvement through ongoing attention to retention, persistence, and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs.

Criterion Five

Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

Criterion Statement:
The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.

Core Component 5A:
The institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.

Core Component 5B:
The institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission.

Core Component 5C:
The institution engages in systematic and integrated planning.

Core Component 5D:
The institution works systematically to improve its performance.

Committees & Groups

Steering Committee

Chad Copple (co-coordinator)
Dr. Elizabeth Bailey-Smith
Andrea Banach
Shari Carpenter
Gabriele Farner
Hillary Halsey
Buster Leeck
Rob Little (co-coordinator)
Beth Mandrell
Dr. Lisa Price
Lori Ragland
Vickie Schulte
Kim Wilkerson
Terry Wilkerson

Compliance Group

Kim Wilkerson (chair)
Kelly Downes
Kathy Evans
Angie Kistner
Cheri Rushing
Vickie Schulte

Mission Committee

Dr. Elizabeth Bailey-Smith
Chad Copple
Rob Little
Beth Mandrell
Kent McKown (chair)
Terry Wilkerson

What's Up Committee

Dr. Elizabeth Bailey-Smith
Greg Hollmann
Dr. Jeannie Mitchell
ReAnne Palmer
Reece Rutland
Nathan Wheeler

Ark Committee

To tackle IT and information housing and sharing issues
Shari Carpenter
Garrett Collier
Chad Copple
Rob Little
Kent McKown
Gina Schenk
Vickie Schulte
Nathan Wheeler

Persistence & Completion Academy

Sarah Bilderbeck
Natalie Brown
Chad Copple
Hillary Halsey
Henry "Buster" Leeck (Team Lead)
Dr. Jeannie Mitchell
Jena Jensik
Rob Little
Lisa Price
Lori Ragland
Vickie Schulte
Kristina Shelton

While the Academy is not a required part of the reaffirmation process, it is an HLC function

Additional Support & Documentation

Garrett Collier
Felicia Follmer
Jean Huie
Beth Mandrell
Kent McKown


The Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504
Phone: (800) 621-7440 / (312) 263-0456
Fax: (312) 263-7462

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Higher Learning Commission