At ARC2023, we explored how the new 2022 Standards of Accreditation express a commitment to success for all students, ensure institutional quality, and promote institutional cultures of evidence and improvement. Plenary sessions explained and expanded on the intent behind the 2022 Standards and their elevated expectations for institutional engagement: foregrounding student success, committing to evidence into action, and defining DEI in the institution’s context while respecting the unique mission of each institution. The plenary presentations were complemented by workshops and concurrent sessions that delved more deeply into how Standards can be used as a guideline for institutional achievement and maintenance of accreditation with WSCUC.
Opening Plenary - April 19, 2023
The Challenge of Excellence
ARC2023’s opening plenary began with a welcome from WSCUC President Jamienne Studley, remarks from Chair Phillip Doolittle who shared WSCUC’s priorities and progress to reinforce its deep commitments, and Commissioner Arch Asawa naming newly elected commissioners. President Studley commented that during these times of attacks on higher education and institutional independence, it is essential to ground ourselves and our institutions in enduring principles and give them renewed meaning and energy.
The second part of this plenary asked us to imagine how new models and brave institutions can succeed for their students in radically changing times. Founder and Chancellor of Minerva University Ben Nelson, Commission Vice Chair and Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California Tracy Tambascia, and Eduardo Ochoa, President Emeritus, California State University, Monterey Bay, and WSCUC President Studley challenged some myths, rethought some traditions, and elevated new ideas for quality.
Second Plenary - April 20, 2023
Achieving Excellence Under the 2022 Standards
Commissioners and staff built on the 2022 Standards during this plenary, discussing the equally important interpretation and implementation. They reviewed the development and approval process for the 2022 Standards, explained the key changes in the 2022 Standards compared to the 2013 Standards, reviewed the draft Institutional Self-Study and Report Process (IRP) for reaffirmation, reviewed the draft Companion Guide which elaborates on the issues an institution may consider as it goes through its self-study and writes its report, and explained the organization of the new Handbook of Accreditation and its timeline for adoption, in which the IRP will be embedded.
Closing Plenary - April 20, 2023
Realizing the New Standards: A Springboard for Mission-Driven Equity and Inclusion
Nationally recognized expert Dr. Tia Brown McNair, AAC&U Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and lead author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education, explored how accreditation, equity, and inclusion reinforce each other to help institutions create an environment of inclusive excellence and student success. She, Dr. Susan Layden, Senior Associate Dean of Students for Student Success at Claremont McKenna College, and Dr. Monique Snowden, WSCUC Commissioner and Senior Vice Chancellor, Strategic Enrollment & Student Success at the University of Colorado Denver, offered powerful reflections and practical takeaways and tools. Specific takeaways that President Studley made a point to save and plans to use include:
Dr. Tia Brown McNair:
“I don’t want your seat at the table. I want my seat at the table.”
“Accreditation is about growth and improvement, it’s not punitive.”
“Does anyone want only some of their students to succeed?”
Dr. Susan Layden:
"I don’t much like meetings, so I use them very intentionally to define a problem, explore reasons and solutions, look at data, model a practice, and explore implications for equity and barriers to inclusion."
Dr. Monique Snowden:
People say about students – give them voice. They HAVE voice. Listen to it…. We should activate our students and be unafraid of what they have to say. …” [about consultation:] “Ask students first, not last."