The Assurance Argument is a 35,000-word online “argument” that states how SWOSU meets each of the five HLC Criteria for Accreditation. The argument also links to hundreds of relevant evidence. Fifty SWOSU staff, faculty, and administrators have spent two years developing this argument. This document is a PDF version of the argument that is submitted to the Higher Learning Commission through its Assurance System. (Note: Links are disabled at this time.)
The Core Component Capsules document provides highlights of how SWOSU addresses each Core Component within HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.
Assurance Argument Criterion Summaries
Criterion 1: Mission. The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
As a member of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, SWOSU is dedicated to providing effective and innovative teaching, research, and service opportunities in an accessible learning environment that serves Oklahoma and the region. Moreover, SWOSU is a locus of educational, economic, and cultural activity in western Oklahoma. These attributes enable SWOSU to impart learning and values to its current students, future learners, and alumni.
SWOSU embraces the Mission Statement published on its website, reinforces it with Vision and Values Statements, and conducts a continuous strategic planning process dedicated to the support of curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities that encourage the development of professional skills and the appreciation of diverse cultural opportunities.
Criterion 2: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct. The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
SWOSU's motto is “The Focus is You.” This motto is embraced by administrators, faculty, and staff as they together strive to focus on the development of students as contributors to their communities and as leaders in their future professions. The university’s policies reflect the values of its stakeholders and governing bodies. These policies are readily available through the university's website, social media presence, and Canvas learning modules. The policies, procedures, and integrity statements of the institution and governing board are broadly communicated in print and online, and discussed in the context of numerous courses.
The Faculty, Staff, and Student Handbooks set forth expectations for all members of the SWOSU community. Established procedures encourage input from each group about their respective handbooks. SWOSU employees embrace the duty of all higher education professionals to be models of integrity in their respective disciplines and programs. At SWOSU, the focus is on the student as a whole person; therefore, integrity, ethics, and responsibility are recognized and nurtured as the foundation of a well-rounded liberal arts education.
Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support. The institution provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
Courses and programs at SWOSU are monitored through an effective and thorough program review process. Undergraduate and graduate programs have appropriate, differentiated student learning goals delivered consistently across all modalities.
The general education program is appropriate for the university's mission. Program objectives ensure that graduates have a broad knowledge of the social and natural world, a keen sense of self and their membership in a global society, and an understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen.
Sufficient numbers and quality of faculty and staff enable the university to achieve its mission. Processes for faculty and staff review are articulated through their respective handbooks. The university provides appropriate professional development and celebrates the success of its employees.
Diverse support services are provided to suit the needs of the student population, including academic advising, tutoring services, and co-curricular offerings. The institution has the necessary infrastructures to support effective teaching and learning.
Criterion 4: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement. The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
SWOSU demonstrates commitment to quality in all areas related to student learning, and follows processes and procedures that ensure continuous improvement in these areas.
The university has a strong infrastructure for defining learning outcomes at all levels, collecting learning outcome data through a variety of ongoing review processes, and acting when student learning outcome data warrants change. These processes review not only courses and programs, but also learning environments and support services so that five levels of outcomes are expected -- course, program, general education, co-curricular, and institutional.
The processes of ensuring quality of the education comply with state oversight board policies, accrediting agencies, and best practices. Changes are based on needs identified by students, faculty, chairs, and other stakeholders through input from surveys, evaluations, annual reviews, and oversight committee reports.
The university also demonstrates commitment to continuous improvement through ambitious goals of persistence, retention, and completion. Efforts in these areas include ambitious goals in the Retention Plan, placement of retention and completion efforts throughout the strategic plan, enhancements in student support services, and ongoing review of these efforts by oversight groups such as the Retention Committee and Strategic Plan Review Committee.
Criterion 5: Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning. The institution’s resources, structures, processes and planning are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.
SWOSU has sufficient resources, infrastructure, and processes to provide for its programs at all locations.
SWOSU's Mission Statement expresses objectives that are realistic in light of current and future resources. The 2018-2023 Strategic Plan identifies academic, financial, and planning priorities, and provides methods by which the institution and its departments plan for success.
SWOSU implements policies and processes that ensure effective shared governance and engage constituents at all levels of planning.
The university's planning and budgeting processes are future-oriented and designed to adapt to changes in state funding, student demographics, and student needs.