Mock WASC we call it, as in mock trial or mock battle. Not mock as in making fun of something, but as in rehearsing to prepare for the real thing. In this case the real thing is the visit of a team of higher education professionals from other WASC-accredited institutions who will help us see what we must do to be a better Fresno Pacific University. They will visit our Bakersfield Regional Center and the main campus after previous visits at other centers. They have studied a gigantic amount of information from us, and they will now query us in person.
Accreditation is difficult work for everyone involved, including the visitation team. It requires clarifying the conditions that we want as a result of all our educational and spiritual effort, and determining how we are doing. The overall purpose is to help us improve and to help prospective students and supporters know what to expect from us. The method is brutally objective honesty.
We ask the visitation team, “How are we really doing? How do we look?” To be able to benefit from the answers we must prepare ourselves; we must learn to accept the honest assessment, whose purpose is not to boost our egos and raise our self-esteem, but to point out what we are not doing well and where we can improve.
So we will practice reality therapy in a mock visit that involves hard honesty about every segment and aspect of our learning community. We are accustomed to forgiving faults, bearing one another’s burdens, focusing on what is possible, walking by faith, believing the best, encouraging, lifting up and loving kindness. So reality can feel negative, painful, cruel and disheartening.
When my counsellor gave me my formal assessment, I did not feel he was trying to give me warm reassurance and encouragement. It was tough truth. We all love praise, but reality therapy is how we see more clearly what we need to accept so we can improve.
Like everyone else in this process, the president must prepare to tell the full truth when asked, with no euphemisms, no selective omissions, no makeup on the blemishes. Just full and honest candor about what I know and what I should know but do not. Shared reality is the first requirement for organizational progress. The WASC accreditation process can help us develop our shared vision of our current reality, the good and the bad, the lovely and the lousy, the woeful and the wonderful. We will see things that must be changed where we had wanted only to focus on the parts we want to preserve.
We will see potential where we had been preoccupied with what is not as good as we wish. We will see what we have where we mainly had been bemoaning what we lack. May God help us see our present reality and want the future he has for us.