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WSU accreditation reaffirmed with 5-year interim report

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities has reaffirmed Washington State University’s accreditation on the basis of its spring 2004 visit and interim evaluation report, which compliments the university for progress in several areas.

A complete 24-page copy of the NWCCU study is on available in PDF format on the provost’s website at

The announcement was made in a letter received from Sandra Elman, NWCCU executive director, who congratulated WSU President V. Lane Rawlins on the preliminary reaffirmation of the university’s accreditation by the commission, which was based on on-campus assessments and a summary of findings by an independent accreditation assessment team.

The report concludes WSU is maintaining the highest level of academic integrity and continues to meet all accreditation eligibility requirements.

Issued at the mid-point in WSU’s regular 10-year accreditation review cycle, which began in 1999, the NWCCU evaluation makes numerous references to strategic initiatives undertaken at the university since Rawlins was named president in mid-2000. It also documents progress made in addressing several key recommendations made to WSU by the NWCCU in 1999.

“The evaluation is particularly significant in that it underscores the value of the strategic direction undertaken by the university over the past five years,” said Douglas Baker, WSU vice provost for academic affairs.

 “It recognizes, as do we, that there are a number of goals we have yet to achieve as a university,” Baker said. “But it also serves to validate the importance of our ongoing efforts to move toward greater accountability, such as we are doing through our current focus on developing clear learning outcomes for each of our academic programs. This is an effort we agree is crucial to evaluating our programs and improving them over time, thereby ensuring that we are offering students the education they need to succeed.”

The NWCCU report also indicates evaluators were impressed by how the university has found ways in recent years to significantly improve the quality of incoming students, provide salary increases despite state funding constraints, implement effective assessment plans and improve ties with branch campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver.

“The faculty is perceived by the students to be interested and caring,” the evaluators noted in the report. “Particularly impressive was the number of students engaged in undergraduate research opportunities. Clearly, even at the undergraduate level, students are experiencing the benefit that comes from attending a Research One University, where a strong faculty can become their mentors.”

The NWCCU consists of 24 commissioners elected for staggered three-year terms. A majority of the commissioners, who serve without compensation, represents institutions accredited by the commission. Four commissioners are public members, however, and are not affiliated with member or candidate institutions. The NWCCU is one of six regional organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit postsecondary institutions within the United States. It is a private non-profit corporation charged with accrediting higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

The mission of the NWCCU is to assure educational quality, enhance institutional effectiveness and foster continuous improvement of colleges and universities in the Northwest region.
Regional accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for performance, integrity and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public.

Institutions accredited or preaccredited by the NWCCU are required to examine their own missions, goals, operations and achievements. NWCCU then provides expert analysis by peer evaluators, and later, commendations for accomplishments and recommendations for improvement from the accrediting body. Since the accreditation status of an institution is reviewed periodically, institutions are encouraged toward continued self-study and improvement.

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