HLC Report Results: Is Morton College Violating its Own Mission and Core Values?

mission&valuesBy Veronica Fernandez

Morton College’s Mission statement is pridefully displayed on the second floor of the C building in bold blue and orange lettering: “To enhance the quality of life of our diverse community through exemplary teaching and learning opportunities, community service, and life-long learning.” Boldly listed below are the school’s Core Values: Compassion, Fairness, Respect, Responsibility, Tolerance, and Truth.

The mission statement is clear: the institution seeks to enhance the quality of life through “exemplary teaching”. Does this then, only apply to the faculty interacting with the students inside of classrooms? Shouldn’t there be an institutional-wide effort to be “exemplary”?

Earlier this month, The Collegian explored the findings of the highly anticipated report on Morton College’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visit last semester. The report included information about criteria that the college either “met” or “met with concerns.” The sections that were “met with concerns” are as follows: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct, and Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.

Furthermore, the HLC explicitly reports their concerns with the Board of Trustees and their role in governing the school. Among the information provided in the report was the decision-making process for the “new president” which was described as lacking transparency in hiring objectives.  The report then continues with a rather alarming statement that reads,

“…there remains a perception with employees that the board unduly influences hiring decisions for administrators and staff and that in many of these cases new hires minimally meet job qualifications.”

The report follows this statement up later:

“…there is a perception that current hiring practices support the
hiring of unqualified administrators and staff who then require expensive training to reach competency levels necessary to perform their assigned duties.”

If the aforementioned is occurring, where are the components of responsibility within the administration? How is this fair to the students who are striving to obtain an education from this college? Are “learning opportunities” being infringed upon when there are unqualified individuals appointed to crucial positions in administering the institution?  If the college is not providing the absolute best in regard to administration, is it then failing to “enhance the quality of life” for the community it serves?

Furthermore, the HLC reports that the atmosphere of fear and confusion has to do with the combination of a lack of transparency and communication that has overall affected employee morale. The HLC reported having found evidence of ineffective communication:

“Ineffective two-way communication appears to be gravely affecting the president’s ability to lead the institution.”

In addition to the report itself, there was a letter issued to the President. While affirming Morton’s accreditation to 2026-27, the letter states that Morton will be monitored in the interim, with a Focused Visit occurring by January of 2018.

Days after this communication from HLC, a letter was released by the administrative office to the Morton College community. This letter celebrated the college’s reaffirmation of accreditation, issued several statements of praise from the administration, noted some items about the history of the HLC, and finally the HLC “revisit” to Morton College in 2018.

The disconnect and violation occur with not only the results of the HLC visit but with the approach, the Administration decided to present this information to the community it serves. It seems as if truth is another eroded value, along with responsibility and fairness.

Moving forward, students and faculty should be taken into consideration with the matters that directly affect their environment, communities, careers and futures.

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