Effective Dec. 16, 2005, Seward County Community College/Area Technical School was approved by the Higher Learning Commission, a division of the North Central Association, to participate in the Academic Quality Improvement Program.
AQIP provides an alternative process for institutions that are already accredited to maintain its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. With AQIP SCCC/ATS demonstrates it meets accreditation standards and expectations through ongoing events that work with the institution’s overall goals and objectives, said Cynthia Rapp, dean of Academic Affairs.


AQIP’s categories include helping students learn, accomplishing other distinctive objectives, understanding students’ and other stakeholders’ needs, valuing people, leading and communicating, supporting institutional operations, measuring effectiveness, planning continuous improvement, and building collaborative relationships.
AQIP replaces the “one-size fits all” approach and supplies the public with more understandable, useful information concerning the quality and value of accredited colleges and universities. AQIP also recognizes and celebrates institutional distinctiveness and outstanding achievements. With this format, everyone has input and the information is personalized to SCCC/ATS. No longer does the college develop a lengthy document for 10-year accreditation.
The college has completed 14 shorter and more meaningful action projects since 2006, with three active projects.
Presently the college is working on revising and implementing its distance learning policies and procedures.
“Once we have updated these procedures, we would like to move forward on increased distance learning opportunities and encourage our faculty to use more online and hybrid instruction,” said Rapp. “In addition we must ensure that our technology meets the growing needs of our instructors.”
A second action project will create a systematic plan, which will ensure continuity of instruction, operations, and administration of the college as employee transitions occur due to employees retiring or relocating.
This project will help improve employee searches, improve the number of qualified applicants for various positions, and decrease resignations during the academic year, Rapp said. SCCC/ATS needs to ensure that there is not a big gap between compensation offered at SCCC/ATS and similar institutions.
In the final action project, the college continues to improve its data management system to collect, define, and document data standards, Rapp said. Equally important is to cross-train existing employees or train new employees in the use of the student information system.
Over the seven years the college has also created a retention plan, developed a program review process for non-instructional departments, improved the concurrent enrollment process for students and parents, developed an institutional promotional calendar, evaluated current marketing and recruitment processes, improved on-campus communication through effective meeting, and identified gaps between development education and general education courses.
In addition, the college has developed a retention plan and strengthened the transfer process, improved developmental mathematics and realigned writing skills and transfer composition curricula.
“We are extremely proud of our employees and how hard they have embraced these action projects to help improve our institutions,” Rapp said. “This accreditation process has only served to strengthen our institution.”
SCCC/ATS is celebrating April as National Community College Month.