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WASC Accreditation

Santa Clara University is accredited by The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), one of six regional accrediting agencies in the United States. WASC serves a diverse membership of public and private higher education institutions (K-12, community college, and senior college or universities) primarily in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific. Accreditation serves to assure the educational community, parents, students, employers, policymakers, and the public that the institution meets high standards of quality and effectiveness. Accreditation is necessary for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs. It is also important for the acceptance and transfer of college credit, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs. 

The overriding purpose of accreditation is to ensure that the institution has been rigorously evaluated and that it meets or exceeds the criteria required to maintain accreditation. In addition, the accreditation process is designed to build a culture of evidence, promote a commitment to institutional improvement, validate institutional integrity, and provide feedback that improves the accreditation process itself.

In 2011, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) awarded Santa Clara University a ten-year affirmation of accreditation and established 2020-21 as the time frame to apply for reaffirmation.

Seeking reaffirmation involves an extensive review of the WSCUC standards to guarantee that an institution is meeting the Commission’s Core Commitments to Institutional Capacity and Educational Effectiveness. The institution's self-study culminates in an institutional report that is evaluated by a team of WSCUC commissioners and peers from other institutions and is followed by a campus visit. A timeline for the process has been established. 

Throughout the self-study process, all SCU faculty, students and staff are encouraged to become actively involved by providing input, suggestions, and feedback. Draft documents will become available to the campus. Feedback on draft documents can be provided at the forums or meetings that will take place throughout the process, via email to, or through contacting any member of the WASC Working Group.

Reaffirmation of Accreditation Timeline


Fall 2017

Ed Ryan, Vice Provost and Accreditation Liaison Officer, works with the University Coordinating Committee (UCC) to form a working group consisting of institutional content experts as well as a cohort of faculty and staff. Faculty who were identified by the UCC have experience in leading a department, leading program reviews, facilitating assessment, or taking a leadership role in a Faculty Core Committee. The staff participant has experience in facilitating co-curricular programming.

The Working Group receives its charge: Review WSCUC standards, participate in consultations with the university community, review the analysis of Santa Clara’s institutional data in the context of the standards, and contribute to a final institutional report that describes Santa Clara’s efforts to promote student learning and student success and adhere to WSCUC standards and expectations

Winter-Spring 2018 The Working Group completes WSCUC self-review worksheet designed to help identify strengths and areas of good practice as well as areas that may need attention. Inclusive of all WSCUC standards, completion of the worksheet enabled a preliminary identification of and reflection on areas of strength and challenge for the institution, with attention to resources, opportunities, the quality of undergraduate and graduate education, and other issues important on campus. The Working Group reviews Santa Clara’s priorities as defined in the Mission, Vision, Values statement and Integrated Strategic Plan, institutional evidence and reports from Schools, Centers, and other sources, and national and local survey data pertaining to students, faculty, and staff
Fall 2018 - Winter 2019 Based on the review and self-assessment, the working group produces a draft of institutional strengths and weaknesses and seeks feedback with the campus community in open forums, faculty, staff, and student senate meetings, etc.
Spring 2019 Working group reviews feedback from the campus community to refine the draft of institutional strengths and weaknesses
Summer 2019 Members of the WASC Working Group draft sections of the Institutional Report addressing the WSCUC Standards
October 2019 WASC Working Group reviews a draft of the Institutional Report and shares with the campus community for review and feedback
December 2019 Based on campus feedback, WASC Working Group finalizes Institutional Report
January 2020 Institutional Report is sent to WSCUC for their evaluation
Spring 2020

Offsite Review, during which a team appointed by WSCUC convenes to evaluate the institution and its compliance with the standards.  

WSCUC provides preliminary feedback and establishes areas on which it will focus during a campus visit.

Fall 2020 Accreditation Visit: October 6-9th, 2020 virtually.  Oct 6th- Open Forum ( 3:00-3:45 pm) for Staff and Faculty and 4:00-5:00 for Students
TBD         WSCUC issues final recommendations to SCU
Working Group Members

Ed Ryan, Vice Provost, Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO)
Chris Bachen, Associate Professor, Communication, Director of Assessment
Emilie Clucas Leaderman, Assistant Director of Assessment (former member)
Heather Dumas-Dyer, Director of Residence Life
Drazen Fabris, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Diane Jonte-Pace, Assistant to the Provost (former member)
Kristin Kusanovich, Senior Lecturer, Theater and Dance
Kate Morris, Associate Professor, Art and Art History, Associate Dean
Ray Plaza, Director, Office for Diversity and Inclusion
Drew Starbird, Professor, OMIS
Barbara Stewart, Director of Institutional Research

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Understanding WASC Standards

Core Commitments 

The WSCUC process begins by calling upon institutions to ground their activities in three Core Commitments. By affirming these Core Commitments and taking ownership of the accreditation process, institutions create learning environments that continuously strive for educational excellence and operational effectiveness in order to serve both students and the public good. 


Standards of Accreditation 

The Standards of Accreditation consist of four broad, holistic statements that reflect widely accepted good practices in higher education. WSCUC institutions are diverse in terms of mission, character, and type. The Standards are broad enough to honor that diversity, respect institutional missions, and support institutional autonomy. At the same time, institutions must demonstrate that they are in substantial compliance with the four Standards and their related 39 Criteria for Review in order to become and remain accredited.


Standard 1: Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

How and how well the institution defines its purpose and provides processes to ensure integrity and transparency

Standard 2: Achieving Educational Objectives through Core Functions

Addresses teaching and learning programs, processes to ensure effective student learning, such as program review; scholarship and creative activity; student learning and success (student support; co-curricular programs)
Standard 3: Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Quality and Sustainability Faculty and staff hiring practices and policies; fiscal, physical and information resources; organizational structures and decision-making processes
Standard 4: Creating an Organization Committed to Quality Assurance, Institutional Learning, and Improvement Quality assurance processes; availability and use of institutional research; commitment to improvement and evidence-based decision making; strategic planning; anticipating and responding to a changing higher educational environment

Learning and Success

Institutions have clear educational goals and student learning outcomes. Institutions collect, analyze, and interpret valid and reliable evidence of learning as a way of assessing student achievement and success. Institutions support the success of all students and seek to understand and improve student success.

Quality and Improvement 

Institutions have clear educational goals and student learning outcomes. Institutions collect, analyze, and interpret valid and reliable evidence of learning as a way of assessing student achievement and success. Institutions support the success of all students and seek to understand and improve student success

Institutional Integrity, Sustainability, and Accountability

Institutions recognize that the public has entrusted them with the critical responsibilities of upholding the values of higher education and contributing to the public good. They engage in sound business practices, demonstrate institutional integrity, operate in a transparent manner, and adapt to changing conditions.


WSCUC Site Visit 

Santa Clara is hosting a remote review with WSCUC team members on October 6-9, 2020 in connection with its reaccreditation.
Useful documents to prepare for the WSCUC visit include the Institutional Report, the feedback from the WSCUC review team summarized here,
and the Campus Brief that summarizes the more recent work on the areas of inquiry that WASC identified in its feedback to the campus.


WSCUC Visiting Team

WSCUC has selected a team of peer reviewers for SCU's accreditation, along with a WSCUC staff and visit liaison. 

Tamela Hawley, Vice President, WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC Staff Liaison)
Christopher Oberg, Vice President/COO, WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC Visit Liaison)
Timothy Snyder, President, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA (WSCUC Team Chair) 
Harold Stanislaw, Professor of Psychology, California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, CA (Team Assistant Chair) 
Tatiana Nazarenko, Dean of Curriculum and Educational Effectiveness, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA (Team Member)
Eric Klein, Dean, Learning & Technology Resources, Grossmont College, El Cajon, California (Team Member)
Katy Rigg, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of University of San Diego, San Diego, CA (Team Member)


Open Forums with the WSCUC Visiting Team

WSCUC has also identified the groups that it would like to meet with during their virtual visit on October 6-9, 2020.  As part of the visit, the WSCUC Visiting Team would like to host an open forum for faculty and staff, along with one for students, with a focus on campus climate, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These meetings will provide campus members an opportunity to share their perspectives on campus climate, recent events related to campus climate, as well as institutional efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. The WSCUC review team particularly encourages participation by members of the campus community who feel marginalized or underrepresented.
Staff and Faculty Forum will be Tuesday, October 6th, 3:00-3:45 pm via zoom: 

Meeting ID: 964 4360 3758

Password: 770014


Student Forum will be Tuesday, October 6th, 4:00-5:00 pm via zoom:

Meeting ID: 923 5773 9632

Password: 787380


Another Way to Participate in the WSCUC Review

WSCUC understands that not everyone who may wish to participate can be invited to or attend scheduled remote meetings and has therefore established a confidential email account to give everyone the opportunity to communicate with the team. The email account is created by WSCUC and only authorized WSCUC staff and team members have access to the emails submitted. The emails are not viewed by any representative of the institution.

The email account is created for this review only and will be closed once the interview sessions are completed. Only comments made before or during the review will be considered as part of the review process. Institutional stakeholders are invited to provide comments on issues of academic rigor and consistency, availability of student support services, the accuracy of information provided by the institution, and other matters related to the quality of the educational experience or the operational effectiveness of the institution.

Institutional reports, remote interviews with groups and individuals, and email comments become part of the information collected and reviewed by the team. If the team chooses to include information derived from confidential emails as a part of its findings in the team report, the information will be presented to keep the author’s identity confidential. Please note that team members will not respond individually to comments provided through the confidential email account. However, the input from comments, along with other forms of information, will be considered as the team undertakes its work and develops recommendations to the institution. The team is not able to meet individually with members of the campus community, so please do not use the email account to request private appointments. 

To write to the WSCUC team, please address your email to  

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