Following a rigorous, nine-year accreditation process, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College is now accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
The College was notified of the accreditation by the MSCHE, which is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, in July. Among the benefits of accreditation is the improvement of opportunities for students seeking to transfer to other institutions after completion of studies at HLSCC.
Operating according to the Commission’s standards should positively impact functional areas at the College, including teaching and learning; finance and operations; and student services, among other areas. The status also opens further doors for student and faculty exchanges, inter-institutional collaboration and generally enhances the College’s reputation.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said, “I am very pleased that my Government’s vision of education for the people of the Territory continues to be realised with the accreditation of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. This means new doors of academic opportunities are now open for everyone living and working in the Territory. It also positions the British Virgin Islands to be even more globally competitive in the educational arena as a recognised institute for learning and research.”
Premier Smith added, “I commend the Minister for Education and Culture, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn for ensuring that the Territory achieved this historic milestone, along with everyone – the administration, faculty and staff, both past and present – who have helped to make the accreditation of the HLSCC possible.”
Minister for Education and Culture, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn stated, “Gaining accreditation is a significant milestone for the College and the Territory as a whole as accreditation is an affirmation that a college provides a quality of education that the public has the right to expect, and that the educational community recognises. It is therefore important that the standards by which the institution is judged are continuously maintained and upgraded.”
He added, “I wish to publicly thank all those who have been instrumental in working towards the accreditation of the HLSCC; administration, faculty and staff, both past and present. I am especially thankful to Dr. Janet Smith for the dedication and hard work she put in, as had it not been for the unequivocal leadership of Dr. Smith, the HLSCC’s accreditation would not be possible.”
HLSCC was deemed to meet MSCHE’s eligibility requirements in 2007 after a 2006 submission. This was followed by a period of seeking candidacy, which resulted in two visits by accreditation teams to the college, the second resulting in the awarding of candidacy status in 2012. The college then embarked on a required three-year period of self-study followed by an accreditation assessment team visit in 2015 that led to the Commission’s recent decision affirming the College’s compliance with all fourteen of its standards for accreditation.
Chairman of the HLSCC Board, Dr. Charles Wheatley, speaking on behalf of the College’s Board of Governors, expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of past president Dr. Michael O’Neal, and current president Dr. Karl Dawson who led the effort at various points; as well as the faculty, staff, students and community partners who played roles that led to this significant milestone.
He had particularly high praise for the College’s accreditation consultant, Dr. Janet Smith, who was the driving force behind the initiative from inception to completion. He also thanked the Minister of Education and Culture, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn and the former Ministers of Government responsible for the College throughout the application period.
Alongside the approval of the accreditation application, the Commission has requested a follow-up report on Standard 3, institutional resources. Outside of that, the College’s next major report to the Commission and team visit is expected in the academic year 2019/2020.
Regional accreditation in the higher education system in the United States of America is a voluntary, peer-based exercise where institutional representatives, through the accrediting agencies, determine best standards for practice in a broad range of institutional functions, and operate a system by which they hold each other accountable to those standards.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is one of seven such regional bodies and accredits colleges and universities in the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. HLSCC and Bermuda College are the only two non-US higher education institutions in the region to receive U.S. regional accreditation.