Dr. Koreen Ressler, Vice President at Sitting Bull College received the Outstanding Service Award out of 1,500 peer reviewers from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Associations of Colleges and Schools. The award was presented at a luncheon during the annual peer reviewers training held in conjunction with the HLC annual conference in Chicago, IL March 25–28, 2023.
The Higher Learning Commission is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the United States. HLC is an institutional accreditor, accrediting the institution as a whole.
HLC relies on a cadre of carefully selected and trained professionals who serve HLC in its accreditation processes. This group of more than fifteen hundred individuals is called the Peer Corps. These volunteers share their knowledge of and direct experience with higher education, their dedication to educational excellence, and their commitment to the principles underlying voluntary accreditation.
Dr. Ressler has been a trained peer reviewer in the corps since 2009, serving on visiting teams for eleven Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs) and mainstream institutions. In addition, Dr. Ressler has lent her expertise to assist a number of other TCUs in the accreditation process, enrollment management, program reviews, and the assessment of student learning process.
She was given the Outstanding Service award for not only her peer review efforts but her overall assistance provided to HLC. Dr. Ressler serves on the Institutional Action Council (IAC). The IAC through its committees is authorized to take action on accreditation decisions and consists of no fewer than forty (40) members who have been nominated by HLC staff and who have been appointed by the HLC Board of Trustees. Dr. Ressler has served on the annual planning committee and currently serves on the HLC Diversity Committee. As part of the Diversity Committee, Dr. Ressler has assisted with the updating of case materials to ensure that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, are front and center in HLC peer reviewer training documents. She has been instrumental in recruiting other TCU professionals to become peer reviewers for HLC and assisted HLC staff in a TCU peer reviewers training this past fall that resulted in an additional 17 TCU professionals being trained. She continues to assist with the annual Student Services/Financial Aid/Chief Academic Officers annual summer conference held at Salish Kootenai College each summer. A large part of the conference is dedicated to accreditation criteria.
Dr. Ressler has been employed with Sitting Bull College since 1996, serving as the Vocational Education Director, Dean of Academics, Vice President of Academics, and her current position of Vice President of Operations. Prior to coming to Sitting Bull College, Dr. Ressler was employed by Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, for 14 years. Dr. Ressler’s entire adult working career spanning 41 years has been between two Tribal Colleges. Dr. Ressler’s greatest honor of working at a Tribal College was when she was given her Lakota name Wachinkiya Yuha Win, which means women who does good or women who provides hope. Dr. Ressler was not aware that she was receiving the award. She was shocked and indicated that it was a great honor, but that the honor has been serving and assisting the TCUs as they continue to grow and do great things.