accreditation report
PULLMAN, Wash. – Evaluators will review the university’s accreditation report over the next two weeks and request interviews with administrators, staff and faculty in connection with reaffirmation of Washington State University’s regional accreditation.
 
Since submission of WSU’s 250-page, Year Three Report to the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) on March 1, the peer evaluation team has been conducting a “virtual review” of the report and supporting information via links to university Web pages and secured online password-protected documents.
 
 
During the next two weeks, the four-member team of evaluators may request additional documentation as well as interviews. More than 30 writers contributed to the report, which focuses on the university’s resources and capacity in governance, budget and finance, human resources, student affairs, physical and technological infrastructure, libraries and educational resources.
  
Report addresses assessment, communication
 
WSU is one of 15 institutions involved in a pilot project intended to streamline reporting and reduce the burden of multiple campus visits during the seven-year accreditation review cycle. In the last year of the process, institutions will host a site visit for the final comprehensive report; WSU’s campus visit is anticipated in 2017.
 
“The report shows the strong work of WSU administration, faculty and staff at many levels of the university and represents significant effort and thought,” said Kimberly Green, director of institutional accreditation and a recently named 2013 WSU Woman of Distinction.
 
The report includes responses to two recommendations for improvement from the NWCCU. These responses address progress made in educational assessment and communication across the university.
 
Green said the virtual campus review offers the opportunity for communication between evaluators and WSU leaders by phone or videoconference, without the time and expense of a site visit. An initial challenge of the new process included the logistics of moving to an all-electronic report format and providing peer evaluators at four different institutions with secure remote access to supporting documents from all areas of the university. 
 
Planning, decision making up next
 
The next phase of the seven-year accreditation cycle will address standards on planning, effectiveness and improvement.
 
“In the next two years, we’ll be looking at our planning and systems, how we use data to inform decision making and seek to continually improve our practices,” said Green.
 
Regional institutional accreditation is a system of self-regulation and peer review to assess universities on their ability to fulfill the mission and goals they’ve identified for themselves. Accreditation not only communicates to the public that WSU has demonstrated the ability to meet broadly accepted higher education standards of quality and fulfill its stated mission and goals, but also certifies graduates’ credentials, facilitates transferring of students between universities and allows WSU students to receive federal financial aid.
 
WSU’s Year Three Report, and a summary of the accreditation standards it addresses, is available online at http://accreditation.wsu.edu. For information on the accrediting organization, visit the NWCCU website at http://nwccu.org/index.htm.