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April 23, 2020

When Cedarville University moved to all-online course delivery on March 16, 2020, our work on the HLC Assurance Review faced the same challenges of learning and working remotely. Until that time a sub-group of the HLC 2020 Task Team worked efficiently by regular face-to-face meetings in the conference room of the Assessment and Accreditation Office. After March 16, we quickly converted to Zoom meetings, and were able to continue our work remotely.

We faced a few challenges, such as dealing with slow internet for some members (solution provided by the University’s generous offer of a hotspot modem), learning how to manage work, parenting, home-schooling, and family dynamics under one roof, keeping track of one another’s work to avoid repetition, and taking detailed notes for bi-weekly updates to one another. By the Lord’s mercy, and through VPA, IT, and CTL support, we have made a smooth transition.

Our project schedule changed only slightly by COVID-19’s brusque intrusion. The ALG review of the document had been scheduled to begin just as we transitioned to all-online delivery. In light of everything that the Chairs and Deans were managing to guarantee uninterrupted quality course delivery, this would have been an unreasonable extra burden. In coordination with Dr. Mach, we moved the ALG review to begin on April 13 and it is currently taking place. We are filled with gratitude for the valuable comments that Chairs and Deans are providing for us. We realize that their plates are still very, very full as they move towards finishing the semester well for their faculty and students. Chairs and Deans, a big shout-out to you!

The other adjustment to our schedule involved the timing of the Mock Review. As we did with the 2016 review, we invited a group of qualified HLC Peer Reviewers to help us with a Mock Review. They began their review on April 15, a month later than originally scheduled, and will provide a written report of their assessment by May 31. They will also hold an exit Zoom meeting with us in late May to finalize their period of review. We have found the Mock Review to be a valuable one in providing excellent suggestions for improvement.

Not surprising to all of us, the annual HLC Conference in Chicago was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. Had the conference taken place, Cedarville was scheduled to engage in a one-on-one appointment with an official HLC expert to get feedback on a select portion of our Review. We just received notification that HLC will still honor their offer via a remote review and a remote consultation via Zoom. We are hopeful that their expert guidance will be one more opportunity to improve our document.

Our Assurance Review is scheduled for lockdown on Oct. 26, 2020. We are still six months away from that date. Although we still have much to do, such as updating evidence with 2020-21 publications and responding to the various reviews by upper administration and the Mock Review team, we are in a good place. By God’s mercy our project management schedule has worked well, with enough cushion of time to accommodate even that most unwelcome of visitors—COVID-19.

Thank you to all of you who have responded quickly to our requests for evidence, and thank you in advance for your response to future requests. It takes all of us to write our story.

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