Date of Award

Fall 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Augenstein, John

Second Advisor

Pink, William

Third Advisor

Spangehl, Stephen


In 1999, as a result of the growing interest in Baldrige and state quality award programs by member institutions, the North Central Association's Higher Learning Commission developed a new path for accreditation. Entitled the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), the categories were based on the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria. This investigation studied what was different at higher learning institutions as a result of using the nine categories of AQIP for accreditation as compared to traditional accreditation. Three colleges who had adopted AQIP as their accreditation avenue were studied. The study examined Action Projects focusing on "Understanding Students' and Other Stakeholders' Needs", reviewed the Systems Portfolios and conducted interviews with the colleges' Presidents, AQIP Coordinators, and Faculty Members. The results of this study showed that all of the colleges' experiences with AQIP made a difference in moving their colleges along the continuous improvement pathway. Engaging a broader base of involvement in strategic planning and systems and process design assisted in transforming the culture of these institutions to one of constant evaluation and improvement. Accreditation activities were recognized as extremely more valuable than an every ten-year traditional accreditation. It became enmeshed in the day-to-day workings of the college.



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