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January 26, 2004

Accreditation team will visit UCSC for review on February 4-6

By Jim Burns

UCSC will be visited by an accreditation team early next month, a critical step in the Western Association of Schools and Colleges' review to determine if the campus should have its WASC status reaffirmed. The visit will take place February 4-6.

"It's an incredible opportunity for the people of the campus to look collectively at what we do, assess how well we do it, and think of ways to do it even better."

--Lynda Goff, chair of UCSC's Western Association of Schools and Colleges Review Task Force

WASC contact information:
985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 748-9001

Since the last time the campus was accredited in 1994, the review process has been revised considerably, said vice provost and dean of undergraduate education Lynda Goff, chair of UCSC's WASC Review Task Force.

"Under the new process, each institution is asked to propose a self-study that is focused on issues germane to its particular mission, stage of development, and institutional context," she said. "There is considerable leeway in selecting topics, although there must be an emphasis on undergraduate educational effectiveness and demonstration of student learning."

In September 2002, the task force chose to focus its accreditation on three main topics: the expansion of our graduate programs, undergraduate student engagement, and restructuring departmental review procedures with a focus on the undergraduate curricula.

Visiting the campus in February will be James Duderstadt, president emeritus, University of Michigan; Christina Gonzalez, dean of graduate studies at UC Davis; K. Patricia Cross, professor emerita of UC Berkeley and Harvard University; Norman R. Scott, vice president of research at Cornell University; and Farris W. Womack, former executive vice president and chief financial officer, University of Michigan and University of North Carolina.

In preparation for their visit, UCSC's accreditation task force met with faculty, students, administrators, and alumni—interviews that led to the development of four "reflective essays" on UCSC's past, present, and future.

The first essay traces the history of UCSC from its founding up to approximately 1990. The second continues the campus history, focusing on UCSC’s success in providing excellent education at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The third describes the current planning process and highlights aspirations for UC Santa Cruz over the next two decades. The fourth illustrates the strong tradition of shared governance at UCSC and outlines the collection and use of institutional data to support UCSC's mission.

"The finished essays clearly reflect the input of many members of the UCSC community," Goff said. "They provide the visiting team with an encapsulated presentation of our institution’s history; its educational philosophies, goals, and objectives; an analyses of how we meet these goals; a discussion of our planning process; and, lastly, a discussion of how we use data to assess how well our institutional objectives are being met."

During their visit, WASC team members will participate in an ambitious schedule that includes meetings with senate and administrative leaders, other faculty, staff, and students. They also have scheduled numerous stops around campus in an effort to assess student learning, UCSC's core educational experiences such as writing and the colleges, undergraduate and graduate student engagement, and support activities such as admissions and advising.

A second campus visit, an "educational effectiveness review," is scheduled to take place a year from now.

All four-year colleges and universities in the United States must be reaccredited periodically to earn federal support for student scholarships, loans, and grants. One of six regional associations, WASC reviews educational institutions in California, Guam, and Hawaii. Its recommendations for accreditation are reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

UCSC is evaluated every eight years by WASC.

While it's not expected that the campus will lose its WASC accreditation, the process itself has great value to institutions like UCSC, Goff said. "It's an incredible opportunity for the people of the campus to look collectively at what we do, assess how well we do it, and think of ways to do it even better."

UCSC's accreditation project, including the reflective essays, is detailed on the following web site: http://planning.ucsc.edu/wasc/.

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