• Leaders Envision Future of Higher Education at ARC2024

    May 1, 2024 - WSCUC

Nearly 800 leaders from WSCUC institutions from around the world descended on San Diego, California, April 18 – 20 for WSCUC’s annual Accreditation Resource Conference.

ARC2024 – The Big Picture: Framing the Challenges, Focusing on the Future explored the changing landscape of higher education, spotlighting the possibilities in the shifts through plenaries and over 100 concurrent sessions. The conference featured special forums tailored for university presidents and accreditation liaison officers and a luncheon for alumni of the Accreditation Leadership Academy, WSCUC’s nationally recognized professional development program. Workshops and curated gatherings that linked attendees with common interests for meaningful, in-depth conversations rounded out the offerings.

WSCUC President Jamienne S. Studley and Chair Tracy Poon Tambascia set the stage in the opening plenary by examining the dynamic forces reshaping higher education and what’s ahead for WSCUC in this time of transformation.

“Higher education delivers opportunity, knowledge, degrees, and return on investment for many. But today it is simultaneously desired and flawed, respected and vilified,” said President Studley. “It is under fire, sometimes with justification, but too often unfairly or to foment division.” Her full remarks are here.

“Higher education is experiencing a period of friction, but within this friction lies the potential for transformative growth and innovation,” said Professor Tambascia. “We can use moments of friction to help engage our community in dialogue, deepen understanding, sharpen our ideas and practices. We can use it to spark new solutions. “

Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc then joined President Studley in a fireside chat. LeBlanc, who will step down from his role at SNSH in June to explore new AI-supported learning models, discussed higher education’s shifting role as knowledge work undergoes radical reinvention.

“We are profoundly unprepared for the changes ahead – buckle up,” said LeBlanc. He also highlighted AI’s benefits, noting the technology’s potential to “flip the value we put on human jobs.”

ARC2024’s Friday “Student Achievement: Metrics that Matter” plenary followed just weeks after WSCUC made available postgraduate economic outcome measures in the agency’s Key Indicators Dashboard (KID).

Co-moderated by San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre and President Studley, Student Achievement: Metrics that Matter featured Mushtaq Gunja, executive director of the Carnegie Classifications systems at the American Council on Education, and Jen Dirmeyer, vice president of accreditation for aspiring accreditor the Postsecondary Commission. Discussions centered on deeper measures and practices that can help promote socioeconomic mobility and reflect multiple institutional purposes.

“Metrics are meant to motivate change. They are not an end in themselves,” said President Studley.

The 116 concurrent sessions presented by WSCUC member institutions and guest experts across the two- and half-day conference tackled urgent issues and practical resources, including many angles on artificial intelligence as well as, leadership, federal regulatory changes, and student success strategies.

Edward Roekaert, WSCUC Commissioner and CEO and rector, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas Lima, Peru, and Commissioner Richard Mahon joined President Studley and Professor Tambascia for closing reflections on the final day. A graduate student attending for the first time said, “It was good to see conversations about ethics and DEIJ at this level.” Change was on attendee’s minds. One appreciated “the emphasis on evidence-based change, not just change for change’s sake.” Another summed up the whole conference as exemplifying “leading through change with values.”

ARC2025 is scheduled for April 2 – 4, 2025, in Orange County, California.