Equity and Inclusion

WSCUC stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. WSCUC expresses that commitment in many ways, from its first diversity policy in 1994 and successor Equity and Inclusion Policy  adopted in 2017, to pioneering work on disaggregated student data. On June 4, 2020 WSCUC issued “George Floyd and Accreditation,” a call to deep reflection and meaningful action by WSCUC and higher education. 

WSCUC has promoted access and effectiveness in higher education, especially for those historically excluded from or denied its full participation and rewards. Today WSCUC’s commitment to eradicating structural bias and using higher education to advance a more just and inclusive society includes helping institutions improve their understanding, capacity, climate, programs, and strategies to promote equitable student success outcomes through system change and inclusive policies and practices. As an accreditor WSCUC is reshaping its own improvement and accountability priorities and actions to accelerate that success. 

Current equity and inclusion work within WSCUC includes new approaches to reporting and using student outcomes data disaggregated by population and focusing on institutional context; educational programming to build expertise and interchange about equity and inclusion work; a comprehensive review of our standards of accreditation; and continued recruitment and development of Commission, staff, and volunteers to plan and lead this work on goals, actions, and results.     

The following is a sampling of current WSCUC DEI-related policies, activities and resources. WSCUC is working actively on changes to policy and process, programs, data, forums for exchanging ideas, and other ways to deepen our DEI work and value. Watch for additions, and please let us know your ideas (equity [at] wscuc.org).  

Thank you for engaging with our Chair Phil Doolittle, Commission, institutions, volunteers, and staff in this crucial and transformative work, 

Jamienne S. Studley, President

 

Action & Projects

Commissioner Nominations: Due December 31 for Next New Class 

Please act quickly to nominate leaders to join the Commission! Your ideas are important. Commissioners play important roles in furthering student success and higher education quality and accountability. There are three top priorities for nominees this year. WSCUC seeks candidates who will contribute to the Commission’s diversity, including diversity of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status and other underrepresented backgrounds are a top priority for the nominating committee, as are candidates with expertise in equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism leadership, pedagogy, scholarship, and programming. Expertise in finance, business arrangements and sustainability is also important in this cycle. Because of the diversity of member institutions in terms of size, mission, affiliation, and complexity, it is important to have Commissioners who are sensitive to the rich range of institutions served by the Commission and their diverse student bodies.

 

Better Conversations, Better Data: Analysis to Improve DEI Outcomes 

One of WSCUC’s priority projects to support equitable student success is called “Better Conversations, Better Data.” With the support of the Lumina Foundation, WSCUC is developing systematic pathways for increased use of evidence and outcomes data across the accreditation process to illuminate potential for improvement and achievement of standards. A central focus is a better understanding of whether institutions are successfully serving students of color and underrepresented populations and closing gaps in student outcomes over time by race/ethnicity, gender, financial need and other factors. The new Key Indicators (KI) Reports disaggregate outcomes with the goal of prompting deep conversations about approaches and investments institutions are using to assure equitable achievement, and to identify instances where more focus is needed or serious problems exist. Ultimately WSCUC wants to promote reflection and action to eliminate systemic barriers and increase positive outcomes for students of every experience.

 

Diversity of Expertise and Background on Peer Review Teams

Peer review teams composed of volunteers from across higher education serve a critical function in institutional reviews. Teams evaluate and make recommendations to the WSCUC Commission  as to whether an institution is meeting WSCUC standards, and also provide valuable insights to help the institution improve its effectiveness. 

WSCUC is committed to fielding diverse, skillful review teams in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, professional background, and areas of expertise. We seek to compose teams that reflect institutions’ communities, drawing on both experienced and new reviewers. WSCUC is making a concerted effort to increase the diversity of peer review teams. This has included inviting more women to the role of team chair and gathering more complete data on the race, ethnicity, and gender identity of volunteers. Specifically, to generate the information needed to build diverse teams, staff reconfigured the volunteer profile to require a response to race and ethnicity (with an option for “prefer not to respond”) and simplified the expertise section. Although these simple questions do not fully capture the diversity and richness of perspectives, we now have more information to develop knowledgeable teams that help us achieve our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

  •  We encourage everyone interested in volunteering as peer evaluators on future accreditation reviews to complete our Volunteer Interest Form.

 

Resources

WSCUC Announcements & Policies

Educational Programming

Reports & Articles Featuring WSCUC