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25 September 2013

HACC Receives Positive Feedback from Middle States Commission on Higher Education

College meets two of three standards during site visit this week

HARRISBURG, Pa. – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, received positive feedback in a verbal report given today by a peer review team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The team commended HACC for its honesty, open communications and tremendous progress toward compliance with standards 7, 12 and 14 as a result of the warning issued by the Commission in November 2012 for the five-year period from 2007-12. HACC remains fully accredited while on warning.

The Commission defines the standards as:

  • Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment): “The institution has developed and implemented an assessment process that evaluates its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals and its compliance with accreditation standards.”
  • Standard 12 (General Education): “The institution’s curricula are designed so that students acquire and demonstrate college-level proficiency in general education and essential skills, including at least oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, and technological competency.”
  • Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning): “Assessment of student learning demonstrates that, at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution’s students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and appropriate higher education goals.”

According to the findings in the peer review team’s verbal exit report, the College has successfully met the requirements of the Commission’s standards in all but one area. Additional work and time is needed for standard 12. The team based its findings using the 168-page monitoring report submitted by the College and meetings with College employees, students and board members this week.

The report was presented verbally today to the College community and will be submitted to the Commission for formal action in November.

HACC President John J. Sygielski, Ed.D., said, “We are pleased with the results of the report and appreciate the recognition of the improvements made in a short period of time. Teams throughout the College have made, and continue to make, significant progress. HACC has much to be proud of, and the efforts of all should be commended.”

“I’m even more confident after today’s report that we will be removed from warning next summer. Of course, we will continue our efforts in all areas and continue to embrace Middle States’ recommendations,” Sygielski said.

The timeline of the involvement of the Commission follows:

  • Nov. 15, 2012 – Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued a warning to HACC regarding the College’s performance on three of the Commission’s 14 standards for accreditation.
  • December 2012 through August 2013 – HACC worked diligently to correct the issues identified in the warning.
  • Sept. 1, 2013 – HACC submitted the required monitoring report to prove that the College achieved compliance and can sustain compliance in the three standards.
  • Sept. 24-25, 2013 – The Commission’s peer review team visited the College to meet with College employees, students and board members.
  • Sept. 25, 2013 – The Commission’s peer review team verbally presented the report to the College community.
  • November 2013 – The report will be submitted to the Commission for formal action.
  • March 2014 – HACC will submit a report outlining its improvements for standard 12.

Highlights from the peer review team's exit report:

  • The College meets standards 4, 7 and 14.
  • The College was not on warning for standard 4 (Institutional Leadership and Governance), but in November 2012, the Commission suggested that improvements could be made. The College is now meeting the standard because of its commitment to redesigning its governance structure and the College’s recent reorganization.
  • The College has made major strides in compliance with standard 7 (Institutional Assessment) by developing and implementing an assessment process that is clearly aligned with the College’s strategic plan. Efforts such as the creation of an Institutional Effectiveness Taskforce and the assessment showcase were commended.
  • The College meets the requirements of standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning), because it has established an organized process and provided resources to ensure HACC students have the knowledge, skills and competencies consistent with institutional and higher education goals.
  • While the College did not meet standard 12 (General Education), the College was recognized for its efforts and progress to date. The site visitors stated that it is evident a process has been established and, with more time, outcomes can be reported. The team is simply interested in knowing that the College’s efforts in this area will be sustained. A follow-up report will be provided by HACC by March 1, 2014. To address the standard, the College has already shifted its approach to ensure all general education courses, regardless of the subject, assess the essential skills, such as speech and writing skills, critical thinking, research and analysis.

While on warning, HACC remains accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (267-284-5000). The monitoring report, exit report and the institutional response to the report will be considered by the Committee on Follow-Up Activities and then by the Commission in November.

For more information on the status of the HACC’s warning from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, please visit
About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers nearly 200 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to more than 20,000 students at five campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through virtual learning. In addition, HACC serves more than 29,000 students in noncredit workforce development, public safety, adult basic education and continuing education programs offered at all campuses and off-site locations in many communities in Central Pennsylvania. For more information about what HACC has to offer, visit
About Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Per the Middle States website, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is responsible for more than 525 accredited and candidate institutions, located in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other locations abroad. The Commission accredits only degree-granting institutions, including colleges, universities, military academies and religious seminaries. The accreditation process is a voluntary, self-regulatory, peer review process. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education and its evaluators use information provided by candidate and member institutions as a foundation for review of activities in conjunction with onsite interviews and data gathering in order to determine whether an institution meets the Commission’s requirements of affiliation and standards for accreditation. For more information, visit

For further information, contact:
      M. Pamilla Saylor
      Integrated Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Lancaster Campus
      Office of College Advancement
      HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

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