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Western Association of Schools and Colleges




 January 2013

Happy New Year,

 

It has been a busy few months at WASC and we are pleased to provide an update on recent actions and information on a number of Commissioner and staff transitions. 

Commissioner Update

Commission Vice Chair, Tim White, Appointed CSU Chancellor; Harold Hewitt Appointed Vice Chair
The New Year is bringing great change to the WASC Commission. At the end of the 2012 year, the CSU System announced the appointment of Tim White as the new CSU chancellor taking over for retiring Charles Reed. In order to fulfill his new role, Tim has resigned from his position of vice chair of the WASC Commission. Tim served for three years on the WASC Commission and has been an incredible asset to the region. WASC wishes Tim all the best in his new position knowing that he will continue to have a major impact on higher education. Commissioner, Harold Hewitt, executive vice president, Chapman University, has been elected to replace Tim as vice chair. 

 

Commission Chair, Linda Johnsrud, Resigns

Chair of the Commission, Linda Johnsrud, submitted her resignation, effective January 2013 in order to pursue other professional opportunities. Linda has served on the Commission for almost six years and has led WASC through its current redesign as the chair for the past three years. WASC greatly appreciates Linda's service to WASC and the region. As chair, she led the Commission's efforts to redesign the WASC process. The Commission is currently undertaking a process to appoint a new chair. Vice chair, Harold Hewitt will serve as acting chair until a new chair is selected.

 
Commission Nominations

Following the June 2013 Commission meeting, seven Commission members will be ending their terms. We want to acknowledge and thank our retiring Commissioners: Jackie Donath (CSU Sacramento), Robert (Bob) Jones (public member), Tom McFadden (Marymount College, community college representative), Leroy Morishita (CSU East Bay), Sheldon Schuster (Keck Graduate Institute), Carmen Sigler (San Jose State University), and Paul Zingg (CSU Chico) for their service to WASC and the region. Each of them has contributed to the work of the Commission in multiple of ways over the years, including chairing committees, serving on teams, working on task forces, and leading Commission review panels. We are very grateful for their contribution. As indicated above, both Linda Johnsrud and Tim White have left the Commission leaving nine vacancies.

 

WASC is currently recruiting six new Commission members. You can find more information on the process and submit nominations here.

WASC Staff Changes
Update on National Search for WASC President

The Executive Committee of the Commission has initiated a process to select a search firm to lead a national search for a new president to succeed Ralph Wolff. The Commission will meet with the selected search firm at its February meeting to develop a job description, position priorities, and a process for completing the search as soon as possible. Following the February meeting, further details on the search process will be announced.

 

Welcoming New Staff

Three new staff have joined the WASC staff. Please join us in welcoming Richard Winn back to WASC as executive director supporting President Wolff's transition, Kris Matarrese as administrative assistant supporting the WASC vice presidents, and Rhonda Silva as executive assistant to the president. 
Policy Actions

Two policies were approved for distribution to the region by the Commission at the November 2012 meeting:

 

WASC will be receiving comment on the two policies until February 15, 2013. Please submit comments to Jessica Worchel at jworchel@wascsenior.org.    

February 2013 Commission Meeting - Public Hearing and Public Session

The Commission will be holding a Public Hearing and Public Session at its meeting on February 22, 2013. This will be the final opportunity to discuss the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation including the Standards of Accreditation and the Handbook text on the Institutional Review Process. The Commission will be voting on final approval of the Handbook at this meeting. To learn more or register to attend, click here. To review or provide comment on the draft 2013 Handbook of Accreditation, click here

WASC's Renewal of Federal Recognition

Under federal policy, WASC is required to obtain renewal of its recognition by the U S Department of Education (DOE) every six years. This process, which involves submitting extensive verification that WASC meets criteria established by the Secretary of Education, enables the agency to be regarded as capable of assuring the quality and integrity of the institutions it accredits. This recognition, in turn, permits an accredited institution to apply for a range of financial benefits for its students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. It is estimated that recognized accreditors serve a gate-keeping function for some $150-billion dollars annually in federal assistance to higher education.

 

The staff at WASC prepared dozens of narratives and uploaded hundreds of supporting documents to the DOE portal in June 2012. The DOE staff reviewed these submissions and requested further submissions in areas needing additional documentation or clarification. WASC was given a brief time for completing this response before meeting in Washington, DC in December 2012. The protocol calls for DOE staff to prepare a recommended course of action for WASC that is forwarded to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, or NACIQI.

 

Over the course of two days, seven different agencies appeared before NACIQI. As was the case with each of the agencies being reviewed, the panel acted to continue WASC's recognition for one year during which time implementation of changes in several policies and practices needed to be documented. WASC, in particular, was afforded the extra time to conclude complex legal transitions associated with changing its corporate structure. WASC President Ralph Wolff, having just announced his pending retirement, was asked by members of the NACIQI panel to comment on key issues and trends facing higher education and its accreditation activities. President Wolff spoke of WASC's innovations in bringing new levels of transparency and accountability to accreditation and the inadequacy of the federal recognition process for well-established accrediting agencies. These comments were noted appreciatively in the higher education media the following morning.

 

NACIQI's recommendations have been forwarded to the Senior Department Official, acting on behalf of the Secretary of Education for final action. A letter from the Senior Department Official is expected in spring 2013, instructing WASC to complete its work on this final submission in approximately a year. As the remaining elements are entirely achievable, WASC anticipates that its recognition will be renewed in 2014 for another period of six years.

WASC Corporate Structure

After review by legal counsel and discussion with the corporate board of WASC, an agreement was made to separately incorporate each of the three Commissions. It proved not to be possible to conform to both California law and the separate and independent requirement of federal law as a single corporate entity. The new corporate structure was approved by the Commission at the November 2012 meeting. The Commission has authorized its audit committee to work with legal counsel to move towards separate incorporation and to develop by-laws that respond to both federal and state legal requirements. WASC corporate will be retained for the limited purpose of licensing the WASC name.

ARC and CEO Forum

Registration for the 2013 ARC in San Diego April 10-12 is now open!

 

CEO Forum registration is also open. Join President Ralph Wolff as he gives his farewell talk. Ralph will discuss looking back over 30 years of service and what lies ahead for WASC, accreditation, and higher education. There will also be an opportunity to interact with members of the Commission about the future of WASC. Register for the CEO Forum, Wednesday, April 10 from 10 am-4 pm, here
International Activities

In recognition of the growing internationalization of higher education, the Commission has initiated several exploratory steps to ensure that WASC institutions have the most current and accurate insights into quality practices worldwide, have access to innovations from other regions, and have a voice in shaping emerging transnational policies and practices. To ensure a continuing capacity in these areas, the Commission has initiated exploration of the transfer of the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (CQAIE) to WASC. One of the earliest organizations to anticipate the globalization of higher education, CQAIE has played a leadership role worldwide in facilitating discussions among institutions, governments, and accrediting bodies to ensure that acceptable standards are recognized and followed.  

 

In furtherance of these objectives, WASC is exploring collaboration with accrediting or quality assurance bodies in several regions, including: the Federation of Private Mexican Institutions of Higher Education (FIMPES), the United Arab Emirates' Knowledge and Human Development Agency, and the Quality Assurance Agency of Great Britain; other organizations are likely to be added to ensure global diversity. WASC is also participating in two new related projects: the CHEA International Quality Group and the Asia-Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership, initiated by the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.  

 

The Commission looks forward to working with the diverse and accomplished centers of internationalization among WASC institutions in the coming months, beginning with a special interest group session at the April ARC.

Changing Ecology Project

WASC is moving forward with its work on the changing ecology of higher education. Our goal for this academic year is to further inform the region, the Commission, and WASC staff of the current and emerging trends in higher education that will impact accreditation and higher education in the coming decade, identify ways in which WASC can continue to be responsive to these changes, and provide a mechanism to engage member institutions in this overall phenomenon. As part of this project, we have commissioned a set of papers from experts in the field that we will be posting on our website in February. There will be a special session at the ARC to discuss these papers and meet with several of the authors on Friday, April 12 from 8 - 9 am. Click here to see a list of the authors and the focus of their papers.

Contents
Commissioner Updates
WASC Staff Changes
Policy Actions
February 2013 Commission Meeting - Public Hearing and Public Session
WASC's Renewal of Federal Recognition
WASC Corporate Structure
ARC and CEO Forum
International Activities
Changing Ecology Project