Accreditation Assurance Review


In June 2020, Northern NM College will undergo our mid-cycle Assurance Review, under the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) Open Pathway for re-accreditation.  Northern started the Open Pathway process after our comprehensive visit and re-accreditation in 2016.  The following highlights are provided to familiarize you with the review process and opportunities to be involved.

Open Pathway Process

The Open Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation process includes both improvement and assurance components, over a 10-year cycle.  The process involves:

  • Regular Monitoring through submission of annual Institutional Updates
  • Year 4: Assurance Review through an online submission of a 35,000-word argument and supporting evidence to demonstrate how the institution meets accreditation criteria
  • Years 5-9: Quality Initiative, a multi-year improvement project of our choosing
  • Year 10: Comprehensive Evaluation including an assurance review, federal compliance review, and on-site visit

Northern NM College is preparing our Year 4 Assurance Review to demonstrate how we meet the following five criteria for re-accreditation:

  1. Mission;
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct;
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support;
  4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; and
  5. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.

Each of the above criteria includes several core components. For a full description of the criteria and the 21 core components, please visit the HLC website.  A panel of peer reviewers will evaluate whether Northern meets the criteria through review of our Assurance Argument and Evidence File.

Opportunities for Engagement

A 12-member accreditation committee led by the Office of Institutional Research will draft the Assurance Argument and compile the Evidence File.  This work depends on support and contributions from numerous members of the College community.  In particular, we will be engaging staff and faculty members in the development of the Assurance Argument and collection of documentation for the Evidence File.  We will also ask members of the College community to review of the draft Assurance Filing and provide feedback.  We have developed a communication plan to keep the College community informed throughout the re-accreditation process.

HLC Accreditation Criteria

  1. Mission
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  3. Teaching & Learning: Quality, Resources, & Support
  4. Teaching & Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
  5. Resources, Planning, & Institutional Effectiveness         

Committee Members

  1. Pam Piccolo, Humanities Department
    Ruth Hidalgo,College of Education
  2. Donna Castro, Human Resources
    Jacob Pacheco, Financial Aid
  3. Ken Dvorak, Distance Education
    Lori Baca, Business Admin Department
    David Torrez, Arts and Science Department
  4.  Ellen Trabka, College of Nursing
    Tobe Bott-Lyons, ENLACE
    Tamara Trujillo, Assessment
  5. Jimi Montoya, Information Technology
    Carmella Sanchez, Institutional Research
    Cheryl James, CPO

Assurance Review Timeline

  • Form accreditation committee; familiarize with criteria & process
  • Complete initial review of Northern’s compliance with criteria
  • Identify areas to explore in 2018-19
  • Begin/continue collecting evidence for Evidence File
  • Develop communication plan
  • Outline/draft Assurance Argument
  • Initiate evidence collection
  • Draft/revise Assurance Argument
  • Announcements and ongoing updates to college community
  • Gather feedback on draft
  • Finalize narrative and evidence files
  • Internal review of Assurance File
  • Initiate institutional discussions on Quality Initiative (QI) projects
  • Assurance Argument due June 2020
  • Review/follow-up regarding panel feedback
  • Develop and implement QI proposal process


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Northern offers over 50 bachelor's, associate and certificate programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math); Nursing and Health Sciences; Liberal Arts and Humanities; Arts, Film & Media; Business Administration; Teacher Education and Technical Trades.
Northern New Mexico College is the most affordable 4-year college in the Southwestern US. Choose us for our value, our quality degree and continuing education programs in diverse areas of study, and our experienced faculty. We provide students with unique opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth, small class sizes, personalized attention, and strong hands-on experiences from day one.
The Northern Foundation remains committed to stimulate leadership, promote equity, and grow resources and philanthropy in the Española Valley and surrounding rural areas. Over the past twenty years, we have granted $1.3 million to support over 1,250 NNMC students.