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WASC Reaffirmation Process

In 2011, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) reaffirmed Santa Clara University’s accreditation with a ten-year affirmation. It also called upon Santa Clara to seek reaffirmation in the 2020–21 academic year. In preparation for the next self-review and campus visit, Santa Clara’s accreditation liaison officer (ALO) is chairing a working group to 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 report that describes Santa Clara’s efforts to (1) promote student learning and student success and (2) adhere to WSCUC standards and expectations.  

Working-Group Members

The ALO worked with the University Coordinating Committee (UCC) to form the working group. The group consists 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.

Ed Ryan, Vice Provost, Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), Chair

Chris Bachen, Associate Professor, Communication, Director of Assessment

Heather Dumas-Dyer, Director of Residence Life

Drazen Fabris, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Diane Jonte-Pace, Assistant to the Provost

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 

Timeline

UCC commissions Working Group  Fall 2017
Engage in self-assessment of WSCUS standards  Spring 2018
Consult with campus community  Spring 2018-Winter 2018
Analyze data and draft report  Spring 2018-Summer 2019
Penultimate Draft  September 2019
Community Review  October- November 2019
Send report to WSCUC  January 2020
Off-site review  Spring 2020
Accreditation visit  Fall 2020

As part of the WASC reaffirmation process, Santa Clara University is expected to identify and reflect upon 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 has drafted a brief document identifying strengths and challenges, drawing from the WASC standards and criteria for review, Santa Clara’s priorities as defined in the Mission, Vision, Values statement and Integrated Strategic Plan, institutional evidence, and survey data. To help shape this list, the WASC Working Group engaged in:

  • Thoughtful reflection on the WASC standards, institutional data, and survey data from the 2016–17 HERI Faculty Survey, the 2017 HERI First-Year Student Survey, the 2017 HERI Senior Survey, the 2018 Campus Climate Survey, and the 2018 National Survey of Student Engagement of First-Year and Senior Students; and
  • A careful review of other sources of evidence about ongoing programs and initiatives as reflected in data and reports from institutional research, the College and Schools, the Centers of Distinction, and Student Life that correspond with the standards that WASC articulates for every institution of higher education.

The Summary of Strengths and Challenges can be found here.

We invite you to review the short document and provide feedback so that your input can be incorporated. Feedback can be provided at open forums taking place in winter 2019 or via email to wascscu@scu.edu.

The overriding purpose of WSCUC accreditation is to assure stakeholders that a WSCUC-accredited 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.

The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) is one of seven regional accrediting agencies. Regional accreditation serves to assure the educational community, parents, students, employers, policymakers, and the public that an accredited institution meets high standards of quality and effectiveness. Students attending accredited institutions may be eligible to apply for U.S. federal financial aid. Accreditation also ensures that credits and degrees are generally recognized for purposes of transfer, admission to other institutions, and employment.  

Understanding the WSCUC Standards

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.

Core Commitment to Student 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.

Core Commitment to Quality and Improvement

Institutions are committed to high standards of quality in all of their educational activities. They utilize appropriate evidence to improve teaching, learning, and overall institutional effectiveness. Through strategic and integrated planning, institutions demonstrate the capacity to fulfill their current commitments and future needs and opportunities.

Core Commitment to 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.

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 related Criteria for Review in order to become and remain accredited. The four Standards are:  

Standard 1: Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

Standard 2: Achieving Educational Objectives through Core Functions

Standard 3: Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Quality and Sustainability

Standard 4: Creating an Organization Committed to Quality Assurance, Institutional Learning, and Improvement

Criteria for Review

Thirty-nine Criteria for Review (CFR) are distributed across the four Standards. The CFRs under each Standard provide more specific statements about the meaning of the Standard. The CFRs are grouped under headings that identify major aspects of institutional functioning. The CFRs are cited by institutions in their institutional reports, by peer reviewers in evaluating institutions, and by the Commission in making decisions about institutions. Many of the CFRs are cross-referenced to allow for ease in identifying related and connected CFRs.  

Process

The current WSCUC process of reaffirmation of accreditation includes:  

  • Preparation of an Institutional Report (IR), which describes the institution’s process of gathering data and of reflecting on its current functioning under the WSCUC standards.
  • An Offsite Review (OSR), during which a team appointed by WSCUC convenes to evaluate the institution and its compliance with the standards.  
  • An Accreditation Visit (AV), during which the evaluation team meets with campus representatives to address interests pertaining to compliance and improvement. Following this visit, the evaluation team finalizes its report and forwards it to WSCUC for action.