The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has reaffirmed the regional accreditation of the university through 2025.
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) President Sonny Ramaswamy communicated the news to WSU President Kirk Schulz in a July 24 letter. The decision to reaffirm accreditation followed NWCCU consideration of the evidence the university presented during the past year in support of accreditation, including its year seven self-evaluation report, the year seven peer-evaluation report, and information received as part of a meeting with WSU representatives and the NWCCU commissioners.
“Receiving reaccreditation is always a notable achievement in the life of a university,” said WSU Provost Dan Bernardo, “and this occasion is no exception. Reaccreditation reaffirms the quality and effectiveness of our ability to fulfill the university’s mission and the plans that support that mission. It also communicates to the public that WSU delivers a high-quality education.”
Bernardo also expressed appreciation to the teams across the WSU system that guided the reaccreditation process. “I want to again express my heartfelt thanks to all those individuals who contributed throughout the accreditation process. It’s also important to recognize the efforts of all of the faculty and staff who have worked so hard over the past seven years on improvements of our academic programming and support for student success that paved the way for this outcome.”
The NWCCU recognized WSU’s accomplishments with a larger number of commendations than are typically received by a reviewed institution, including:
- The administration’s ability to rapidly build a reputation for transparency and inclusiveness in decision-making.
- The fostering of a strong esprit de corps among its students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
- Effective initiatives to improve student access and success.
- Assessment of student learning outcomes.
- For planning to revitalize classrooms to serve today’s learners, citing The Spark building as a notable result.
- Focusing research on the Grand Challenges.
The NWCCU also recommended that the university improve in four areas:
- Engage in comprehensive planning that is informed by the collection of appropriately defined data, which can be disaggregated to identify differences among campuses, learning modalities, and other subdivisions of this large and complex institution (Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report,A.3).
- Expand plans to include fully comprehensive emergency preparedness and contingency planning for continuity and recovery of operations at all campuses (Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report,A.5).
- Utilize results of core theme assessments and results of assessments of programs and services more consistently for improvement by informing planning, decision making, and allocation of resources and capacity (Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report,B.3, 4.B.1).
- Incorporate student learning outcomes assessment findings into the evaluation of mission fulfillment (Year Seven Self-Evaluation Report,B.2)
The next step in future evaluations of the university will occur in fall 2019, when a mission and core themes self-evaluation report is due to NWCCU. The commission asked the university to address recommendations two and four above as a required addendum in the 2019 report. Recommendations one and three will be addressed in a required addendum to the mid-cycle self-evaluation report in spring 2021.
Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the NWCCU indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.
Accreditation by the NWCCU is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.
Inquiries regarding an institution’s accredited status by the NWCCU should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals also may contact the NWCCU by mail at 8060 165th Avenue N.E., Suite 100, Redmond, WA 98052; by phone at 425-558-4224; or online at the NWCCU website.