Carry the Torch to HLC Gold in 2020


What is Accreditation?

Welcome to the GateWay Community College website, dedicated to the reaffirmation of accreditation by the college's accrediting body -- the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accreditation is a review process used in higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities and educational programs for quality assurance and institutional improvement. In 2019-2020 GateWay will submit an assurance argument, supported by detailed artifacts or evidentiary documents, to the HLC. In December 2019, the college will host HLC representatives as they engage in a campus visit to verify claims and validate our continued accreditation.

This website will document related work and communicate with the campus and community about this important endeavor. Please visit frequently to stay engaged and informed.

Additional Accreditations

Several programs at GateWay have individual accrediting bodies. For information on all programs that are individually accredited visit

Accreditation scrutinizes institutions for quality assurance and institutional improvement. The US Department of Education (USDE) relies on this process to ensure federal student aid funds are being used toward quality courses and programs. Only those institutions that are accredited by a USDE-recognized accrediting organization are eligible to receive federal financial assistance for its students.

Along with enabling students to receive federal financial assistance for their education, accreditation also:

  • Allows for credits earned at GateWay to be transferred to other higher education institutions.
  • Confirms the rigor and quality of GateWay courses to ensure that students are receiving a quality education.

In the past, GateWay would engage in the process of reaffirming accreditation by participating in a self-study and campus visit process once every 10 years. This process was recently updated by the HLC, moving GateWay to what is known as the HLC Open Pathway, which now requires multiple touch points in each 10-year cycle. 

To learn more about the Open Pathway to Accreditation, visit the Process tab on this page.

In 2019-2020, GateWay will engage in the process of reaffirming accreditation with the HLC via the Open Pathway. This process separates the continued accreditation process into two components: the Assurance Review and the Quality Initiative defined below.

Assurance Review: The assurance review process requires the college provide evidence and write an Assurance Argument that addresses the HLC’s criteria for accreditation. This narrative is supported by the Evidence File. Two assurance reviews will take place in the 10-year cycle; one in Year 4 and one in Year 10. The Year 4 review is completed electronically through the Assurance System and does not require a visit. The Year 10 review includes a campus visit.

Quality Initiative: Between Years 5 and 9 of the 10-year cycle, the institution proposes and completes a Quality Initiative as an institutional improvement project. 

In 2014, GateWay Community College elected to participate in the HLC Assessment Academy, with a focus on measuring student learning across the institution. The HLC Assessment Academy project meets the requirements and is being implemented as GateWay's Quality Initiative Improvement project.

The Assurance Argument is submitted to the HLC via the Assurance System. The Assurance System is a web-based technology that institutions use to provide the argument and evidentiary materials. The Assurance Argument is organized by the Criteria and its Core Components. For each Criterion, the institution offers:

  • Criterion Introduction
  • An articulation of how each Core Component within the Criterion is met, including a statement of future plans
  • A statement regarding any additional ways in which the institution fulfills the Criterion
  • Links to materials stored in the institution’s Evidence File

The Evidence File is an electronic filing cabinet where all documents that support statements made in the Assurance Argument are maintained. Each document must be linked directly to the Assurance Argument. When the Assurance Argument and Evidence File are submitted for review, peer reviewers will be able to access the argument as well as supporting evidence in order to provide feedback.

The goals of the Open Pathway are:

  1. To enhance institutional value by opening the improvement aspect of accreditation so that institutions may choose Quality Initiatives to suit their current circumstances.
  2. To reduce the reporting burden on institutions by using as much information and data as possible from existing institutional processes and collecting them in electronic form as they naturally occur over time.
  3. To enhance rigor by checking institutional data annually (Institutional Update) and conducting an Assurance Review twice in the 10-year cycle.
  4. To integrate as much as possible all HLC processes and HLC requests for data into the re-affirmation of accreditation cycle.

Executive Champion:

Dr. Steven Gonzales, President

Accreditation Leads:

Dr. Maria Wise, Vice President, Academic & Student Affairs
Dr. Amy Diaz, Dean, Liberal Arts & Learning Support
Dr. Cathy Hernandez, Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness
Dr. Bonnie Hoewing, Faculty and Program Director, Reading
Kristy Warfield, Manager, Institutional Effectiveness

Federal Compliance Packet:

Char Hunting, Program Manager, College Compliance

Criteria Champions:

HLC Criterion 1 Team:
Diana Daddo, Administrative Specialist, Facilities
Kristin Gubser, Director, External Affairs; Leadership Liaison
Tangiera Loftis, Student Services Analyst, Financial Aid
Kyoko Olson, Instructional Services Manager, Learning Center; Team Lead
Peggy Shortridge, Training & Development Consultant, Center for Teaching and Learning; Team Lead

HLC Criterion 2 Team:
Cynthia Bass, Student Services Analyst, Enrollment Services
Nilsa Casas, Fiscal Supervisor
Manuel Dallago, Student Services Manager, Veteran Services
Darryl Greeley, Student Services Supervisor, Enrollment Services; Team Lead
Dr. Andy Lenartz, Faculty, Psychology/Honors Director; Team Lead
CJ Wurster, Dean, Trade & Technical Training; Leadership Liaison

HLC Criterion 3 Team:
Kirsten Berdahl, Faculty Developer/Faculty, Physical Therapist Assistant; Team Lead
Jose Candanedo, Associate Vice President, Information Technology (CIO)
Tiziana Marengo, Student Services Specialist, Career Services
Jake Rivera, Dean, Enrollment Management; Leadership Liaison
Ruben Saenz, Student Services Director
David Smith, Faculty and Program Director, Computer Information; Team Lead
Mark Woehl, Instructional Services Manager, Trades

HLC Criterion 4 Team:
Marie Huntsinger, Student Services Specialist Senior, Advising
Nancy Johnson, Dean, Professional & Technical Education; Leadership Liaison
Ryan Johnson, Planning Research Analyst Senior, Institutional Effectiveness
Joanne Perez-Arreola, Instructor Senior, Computer Foundations; Team Lead
Dr. Joseph Swaba, Faculty, Communication; Team Lead
Douglas Walker, Faculty, Mathematics
Dr. Sharon Zygowicz, Faculty, Counseling

HLC Criterion 5 Team:
Joel Arthur, Learning Technician Senior, Learning Center
Shala Dveirin, Instructional Services Supervisor, Beauty & Wellness; Team Lead
Dr. Vivian Miranda, Dean, Student Success & Retention; Leadership Liaison
Angie Rose, Student Services Specialist Senior, Advising
Ceci Soto, Fiscal Director; Team Lead
Michael Zerilli, Instructional Services Supervisor, Operations

HLC Engagement Team:
Jessica Brosilo, Student Services Specialist Senior, Service Learning
Kirsten Clary, Project Manager, Office of the President
Monica Katsanes, Program Director, Medical Assistant and Medical Billing & Coding
Chris Mims, Faculty, Communication
Kelly Romirowsky, Faculty, English
Juliane Roybal, Instructional Design Director, Center for Teaching & Learning
Kerry Sanderson, Student Services Director, Career Services, Team Lead
Rikki Shannon, Student Services Specialist Senior, Honors/Transfer 
Lara Smith, Grants Manager, Grants Development and Management, Team Lead 
Kayla Tapley, Student Services Specialist, Student Life
Michael Tapscott, Instructor Senior, Massage Therapy
Anabel Torres, Planning Research Analyst, Institutional Research

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in an independent corporation founded in 1895 as one of the six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting, post-secondary educational institutions in the 19 states of the North Central region, including Arizona.

The Commission is governed by a Board of Trustees, elected by the membership and administered by a president selected by and accountable to that Board. The charge to the president is to ensure that through its structure and personnel, the Commission delivers useful and cost-effective services.

Actions on affiliated institutions, including receiving or reaffirming accreditation, are taken by decision-making bodies comprised of institutional representatives and public members. 

To serve the common good, HLC creates and maintains relationships with the federal government and other organizations with communities dependent on the quality of higher learning received in accredited colleges and universities. The federal government has a distinct interest in the role of accreditation in assuring quality in higher education for the students who benefit from federal financial aid programs. As a U.S. Department of Education (USDE) gatekeeper agency, HLC agrees to fulfill specific federally defined responsibilities within the accreditation process.

The Glossary of HLC Terminology offers definitions for words and phrases that are most commonly used in HLC’s policy, procedures and communications.