Accreditation: The Legend and the Future

Overheard in McDonald Hall foyer and echoing across the campus: “Thank goodness, we’re done with accreditation for a while!” There’s something about that exclamation that makes me want to take a deep breath, relax, and schedule an extended vacation. On the other hand, it triggers just a little chill down my spine.

Accreditation illuminates a path toward well-being for a university’s students, faculty, staff, administration, and financial matters. It grounds us in sustainable actions, not unlike a medical appointment when we are reminded about healthy living. Our accreditation score reflects the extent to which we are likely to maintain effective educational practices.

FPU was acknowledged by WASC’s EER site visitors for having developed a “culture of assessment”, which is certainly the heart of excellent accreditation practices. A medical analogy would be a regular workout routine. The culture of assessment keeps us healthy, growing, responsive to the environment, feeling good, and very capable of weathering life’s inevitable challenges.

There are three EER elements on the immediate horizon that have FPU’s attention: 1) EER recommendations embedded in the FPU landscape; 2) What comes next for FPU Assessment; and 3) Sustaining the FPU Idea.

1. The FPU Landscape: Embedded EER Recommendations.

The response to recommendations will be embedded into normal administrative and committee structures. Each of the five (paraphrased) EER recommendations and their committee/position hosts are:

A Develop a comprehensive diversity plan | University Diversity Committee, Human Resources, Exec. Cabinet

B Complete the current strategic planning process | President, Board of Trustees For sub-plans: Provost, VP Enrollment, VP Finance and Business Affairs

C Develop financial processes and fundraising | President and Asso. VP for Advancement. VP Finance and Business Affairs

D Increase the inclusion of faculty and staff in decision making bodies and processes | Governance Task Force (includes Fac, Staff, Admin, and Bd representatives), Exec. Cabinet

E Create communication feedback processes | VP Communications, Exec Cabinet, Human Resources

2. FPU Assessment – What Comes Next?

a. Assessment Templates. The Assessment Office stumbled upon a format which helped academic and co-curricular offices engage in data analysis and reporting. For example, academic programs used a template to complete their annual IDEA course evaluation reports in 2015. NSSE results were also processed with simple reporting templates. By utilizing templates, departments can more easily access important metrics (rather than chase them down), then discern meaning and define subsequent actions. We heard you about this tool’s helpfulness and are increasing its availability. Look for two new templates coming soon: Academic Program Review and Co-Curricular Program Review.

b. Co-curricular Program Review. FPU’s co-curricular offices include: Spiritual Formation, Athletics, Student Life, Career Services, On-Site, Conduct, Commuter Services, First Year Experience, Health Center, International Services, Residential Life, and Student Activities/Government/Leadership. Building on their 2015 100% participation in annual assessment review, co-curricular offices are being staggered into 7-year Program Review cycles, mirroring their academic colleagues.

3. The FPU Idea – Sustaining the Traditions

The Academic Rigor Inquiry Circle affirmed the FPU Idea in a focus group event and recommended that it be reviewed every other year under the leadership of the University Assessment Committee. In particular, additional USLO alignment consideration was requested. According to the Inquiry Circle, two Idea concepts which were not explicit in FPU’s current USLOs are Christian Faith Traditions and Lifelong Learning.