The visiting team for our Educational Effectiveness Report has just left after sharing its commendations and recommendations. These will be sent to the WASC Commission with a longer report and other confidential recommendations that we never see. The WASC Commission will notify the university of the final reaccreditation status in July. What we can say now is that it was a good report.
FPU is somewhat unique in hosting an open forum with the Visiting Team so that everyone can hear first-hand from them. WASC encourages transparency–the final report will be posted on their website. Here is what they shared.
Team members commended us for the work we have done, establishing a culture of “assessment” (reviewing student learning data and improving teaching because of it); the extra assessment studies our faculty conducted; efforts to stabilize the university budget; our IT Department and Center for Online Learning’s work in connecting students and faculty throughout all university sites in online teaching and learning; and our self-awareness about institutional needs going forward (a very good sign).
They also made recommendations about developing a comprehensive diversity plan; completing the current strategic plan process; developing financial processes and fundraising; increasing the inclusion of faculty and staff in decision making bodies and processes; and creating communication feedback processes.
We should note that the lists of the last two paragraphs are our attempts to capture what was read aloud in a large public setting. The points have deliberately been left somewhat vague and inexact because we do not have the actual wording, nor do we have the final and full report.
However, there were no surprises, again a good sign that we know what we have to do. The chair of the visiting team noted that accreditation is the method by which we get stronger, better, and excel at higher levels. WASC calls it “continuous improvement.” The goal is always student learning. How are we preparing students? Are they learning what they need to be learning? We were commended for our work in this foundational and most important effort of any university! Many of us heard the team express their appreciation for various aspects of FPU—the work of the regional centers, culture of assessment, dedication of faculty and staff, student diversity, and others.
In the fall I was quoted in our student paper The Syrinx, saying that there was a 100% chance that we would receive reaccreditation and our excellence would be noted. The report indicates that I was 100% correct!
I want to thank once again the many, many faculty, staff, board, and administrative members who worked on the effort over the last four years. Thank you to our students who met with the team too! A special thank you to adjunct faculty and students at the FPU Bakersfield Center for taking time out of the middle of a workday to meet with the team. Our “Inquiry Circle” process is considered a “best practice” by WASC personnel, and the participation by the entire community showed the commitment of everyone to a “continually improving” and excellent institution of Christian higher education.
Look in the coming days for announcements about celebrating our work together and the very good outcome. Thank you and congratulations—well done!—to the entire FPU community for your commitment to the mission and to the continually improving excellence of Fresno Pacific University.