Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University’s monthly accreditation forum Jan. 23 highlighted the new contingent faculty handbook, evaluation process, and orientation.

Contingent faculty include part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty.

“The contingent faculty handbook is the resource they need to succeed as teachers for our students,” said Brandon Kempner, a Highlands English professor who is directing the university’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation. He presented the forum.

Kempner and Highlands President Sam Minner are co-chairing the steering committee to resolve the HLC concerns.

The new contingent faculty handbook was approved by the Highlands University Board of Regents spring semester 2016 and implemented fall semester 2016.

The handbook is online at the university’s faculty resources webpage at by using the new faculty resources link at the top of the page. The handbook is also available on the university’s accreditation website at by using the evidence link at the top of the page.

“Highlands has a good balance between approximately 50 percent contingent faculty and 50 percent tenure-track faculty,” Kempner said.

The university’s Faculty Senate, general faculty, contingent faculty, administration and Board of Regents all reviewed the contingent faculty handbook before it was finalized.

“It’s critical to invite all faculty to participate in our shared governance including contingent faculty,” Minner said.

Kempner said the new evaluation process for contingent faculty includes in-class evaluation as well as the department chair reviewing the faculty’s student evaluations at the end of each semester.

He said the new orientation for contingent faculty has two main components. For full-time contingent faculty, it includes participating in professional development week at the Highlands University main campus the first week of fall semester. Other contingent faculty teaching fewer courses can complete an in-person or new online orientation module.

Videos of the monthly accreditation forums are posted on the university’s accreditation website. In addition, all the forums are broadcast in real time using a live-streaming technology called Zoom with the university’s statewide centers, as well as others unable to attend the forums in person.

The Higher Learning Commission is Highlands University’s accreditor. On Aug. 31, 2016, the HLC placed Highlands on probation, noting areas that needed improvement including policies for contingent faculty.

Highlands is still accredited with the the Higher Learning Commission while the university works to address the concerns the HLC identified.

An accreditation FAQs page for Highlands is online at

The Higher Learning Commission accredits approximately 1,000 colleges and universities that have a home base in one of the 19 states that stretch from Virginia to Arizona. The HLC is a private nonprofit regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Faculty, staff, students, parents, and others from the general public with questions regarding the HLC’s work should contact the Higher Learning Commission by email at or 312-263-0456.

For specific questions about Highlands’ accreditation, please contact us at