HLC Criteria

The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. Each criterion is made up of Core Components and Sub-Components. The institution will be reaffirmed for accreditation if it is found to meet Core Components.


The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Criterion 1: Core Components

1.A. The institution’s mission is broadly understood within the institution and guides its operations.

1.B. The mission is articulated publicly.

1.C. The institution understands the relationship between its mission and the diversity of society.

1.D. The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the common good.

Vision, Mission, and Values

South Mountain Community College is a public institution of higher learning offering Associate Degrees, Certificates of Completion, continuing education courses, and other educational services. Located in metropolitan Phoenix, the college has been serving the citizens of Maricopa County and Arizona since 1980. South Mountain Community College is governed by the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board.


South Mountain Community College educates minds, transforms lives, touches hearts, and builds community.


South Mountain Community College provides quality higher education for our diverse community. We create a caring teaching and learning environment that fosters student development and supports productive citizenship in an increasingly global and technological society.


Students are the primary reason we exist. We value our diverse learning community and respect our students for their life experiences and their achievements, and we appreciate their contributions. For these reasons, South Mountain is committed to the following values:

  • Collaboration – We are inclusive in our relationships with colleagues, departments, and community and respectful of their ideas.
  • Community – We serve our community by recognizing our inter-dependence, celebrating our history, honoring our diverse cultures, and building our future.
  • Excellence – We model exemplary teaching, learning, service and leadership through continuous improvement, creativity and innovation.
  • Integrity – We are accountable to the communities we serve and are truthful, sincere, transparent and responsible for our actions.
  • Wellbeing – We are a college community that encourages and develops social, physical, career, community and financial wellbeing.


Criterion 2: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Core Components

2.A. The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.

2.B. The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships.

2.C. The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity.

2.D. The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

2.E. The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, students, and staff.


Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

The institution provides high-quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Core Components

3.A. The institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education.

3.B. The institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs.

3.C. The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

3.D. The institution provides support for student learning and effective teaching.

3.E. The institution fulfills the claims it makes for an enriched educational environment.


Criterion 4: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement

The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

Core Components

4.A. The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs.

4.B. The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning.

4.C. The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational improvement through ongoing attention to retention, persistence, and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs.


Criterion 5: Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.

Core Components

5.A. The institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.

5.B. The institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission.

5.C. The institution engages in systematic and integrated planning.

5.D. The institution works systematically to improve its performance.

SMCC HLC Teams and Champions

Click here to see the Maricopa Community Colleges Employee District Search

  • Damita Kaloostian, Chair
  • Dr. Clyne Namuo, Chair
  • Bruce Battle
  • Tim Budworth
  • Guy Goodman
  • Dr. Travis May
  • Belinda Miguel