• WSCUC Newsletter: November 2021

    November 18, 2021 - WSCUC

Table of Contents


President Studley’s Fall Letter: Giving Thanks, Making Change

In this season of thanksgiving, I thank you for your service to the success of our students and the future of learning. The expectations and pressures on students, on faculty, staff and leadership, on institutions, have never been greater.

Two weeks ago, the WSCUC Commission relished its in-person meeting, welcoming two classes of commissioners who had never met in person. The retreat allowed the luxury of time for exploration. One session focused on guiding inquiry into institutions’ equity and inclusion activities and effectiveness, respectful of mission. The commissioners also explored big changes and challenges in higher education to shape future policies and programming.

Major WSCUC projects are moving along, as this newsletter makes clear. Your advice is helping shape the Standards and Handbook Review process, and we appreciate the positive reception for the Key Indicators Dashboard that went public in August. We’re mounting new webinars and redesigning evaluator training and the Assessment Leadership Academy to serve you.

Peer review is the heart of accreditation, and a great professional development experience. Help us tap your network to expand, and especially to increase the diversity of, our evaluator pool. We invite volunteers and suggestions to Marcy Ramsey at mramsey@wscuc.org.

Please also consider outstanding candidates for WSCUC Commissioner. Nominations are open until December 31. Current Commissioners are here. Priorities again this year include expertise in equity and inclusion work or finance, and people who would add further racial/ethnic and other diversity. You’ll find details below and here.

Mark your calendar for April 20-22 — the WSCUC commissioners and staff are eager to see you at ARC22 in San Francisco. It will be wonderful to be together again!

With warm Thanksgiving wishes,

Jamie Studley


Key Indicators Dashboard (KID) and Peer Benchmarking Progress

During fall 2020, WSCUC implemented a peer benchmarking pilot project as part of our Lumina Foundation funded initiative, “Better Conversations, Better Data.” In September 2021, each institution was provided an opportunity to change up to 25% of the WSCUC peer group.

For institutions that elected to make changes, WSCUC has completed updating the WSCUC peer groups. With the updates, WSCUC is making peer data available in KID for all WSCUC institutions included in KID through the accreditation management portal (AMP) and to peer reviewers through the volunteer information portal (VIP). Peer data is not a part of the WSCUC public portal on the website at this time. KID has replaced the PDF peer benchmarking reports, and WSCUC will no longer produce PDF peer benchmarking reports for institutions included in KID. Institutions included in KID are accredited institutions that report to IPEDS and have undergraduate programs.

WSCUC has developed an interactive peer selection tool as a service for our institutions that may be accessed from the KID in the AMP. WSCUC will continue to use the WSCUC identified peer sets for accreditation inquiry. WSCUC recognizes and indeed encourages institutions to develop peer sets for varied purposes, and in the spirit of our “better conversations, better data” focus, we hope this tool will be a valuable resource for peer selection for institutions’ own improvement initiatives.

Please contact data@wscuc.org if you have any questions about KID or this item.


WSCUC Standards of Accreditation and Handbook Review – Targeted Updates Approved

As explained in earlier newsletters, WSCUC is undertaking a periodic review of its governing Standards of Accreditation and Criteria for Review (CFRs). After consideration of significant input and analysis gathered from members of WSCUC institutions, as well as our Commissioners, staff, and external constituents, WSCUC staff recommended in September 2021 that the Commission expand the scope of the project to embrace the Handbook, including the Institutional Report and its Components, not just the Standards themselves. Further, staff recommended recasting the work of Standards revision into two phases.

The first phase, called “Targeted Updates” (TU), were approved by the Commission at its November meeting and are posted on the WSCUC website as the 2013 Handbook (revised 2021). The TUs reflect actions already taken by either the Commission or the Department of Education that had not been added to the Handbook of Accreditation. For example, this includes the elimination of the Financial Review Committee, the Mid-Cycle Review (MCR), the Graduation Rate Dashboard (GRD), and the Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators (IEEI), all of which still were cited in the Handbook. In addition, the Commission had created a new reaffirmation process, the Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation (TPR), and the new Key Indicators (KI) reports and Key Indicators Dashboard (KID), but they were not yet included in the Handbook.

The second phase, called “Standards and Handbook Review” (SHR), will include further, and potentially more substantive, revisions to the Standards as well as a revision of the Institutional Report process to eliminate confusion between the Standards and the Components. This phase will be an expansion of the work that the Commission has already undertaken and will integrate changes based on discussions, consultations, and conclusions received so far or gathered during additional consultation and comment we will arrange during the winter and spring. While the basic schema of the Standards will be retained, areas of overlap and confusion in the organization and presentation of the CFRs will also be addressed.

The Standards Review Work Group will soon review a SHR calendar that will call for a fully revised Handbook to be brought to the Commission for its consideration in June 2022, with distribution to the membership for comment following the June 2022 Commission meeting. Final action is planned for the November 2022 meeting. At the June 2022 meeting, a proposed implementation schedule will also be presented for ratification. That schedule will take into consideration the need for institutions to have appropriate time to organize their reaffirmation efforts according to the revised institutional report design.


Spring 2022 WSCUC Visits and Offsite Review Formats

Informed by both medical guidelines and institutional practice, the Commission determined that it will organize Spring 2022 visits as in-person reviews whenever possible and will also maintain flexibility in scheduling to accommodate specific circumstances. The exception to this practice is the Offsite Review (OSR-the first stage of the reaffirmation process); the Commission learned during the last twenty months that this one-day review is well-suited for remote collaboration, and future OSRs will be conducted remotely. If an institution has a question about scheduling, please contact the WSCUC Vice President assigned as staff liaison.


Commission Policy Changes and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Changes

Policy Changes Approved

Observers on Peer Review Teams Policy and Observers on Peer Review Teams Agreement Form

Following circulation to the membership for comment, this policy and form were approved by the Commission during its November 2021 meeting and posted on the WSCUC website.

Observers occasionally serve on peer review teams to learn more about the WSCUC accreditation process. This policy has been renamed to reflect current WSCUC terminology and edited for clarity. In addition, protocols have been removed from the agreement form and added to the policy so that the agreement form focuses solely on confidentiality.

Unannounced Visits Policy

Following circulation to the membership for comment, this policy was approved by the Commission during its November 2021 meeting and posted on the WSCUC website.

The policy has been edited for clarity and indicates that visits can be unannounced or on short notice. WSCUC would use this authority when special circumstances warrant.

Incubation Policy

This policy has been put on pause.

At its October 15, 2021 meeting, the Executive Committee paused consideration of incubation arrangements to allow for a review of the policy and experiences, with an eye to potential clarification of the intent and provisions of the Incubation Policy. A revised policy may be brought to the Commission at a future time.

Request for Comment on Policies

WSCUC is seeking public comments on proposed changes to one policy and one form. Click the links below for more information about the policy and the form. Please send comments to policies@wscuc.org by January 31, 2022. A revised policy and form reflecting comments will be reviewed and considered for adoption by the Commission in February 2022.

Conflict of Interest Policy and Standards of Conduct, Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Form.

The text of the policy has been revised to indicate that the look-back period for reporting activities that might give rise to conflicts of interest is changed from five years for all relationships to five years for employment and twelve months for all other relationships. A new conflict of interest form has been designed to conform to the policy and incorporates standards of conduct and confidentiality.

Staff contact: Barbara Gross Davis


Nominations Open for WSCUC Commission – Due December 31, 2021

​​​​WSCUC invites nominations for Commission positions. WSCUC Commissioners play crucial roles in furthering excellence, equity, and engagement in higher education, promoting student success while participating in policy and decision making. The Nominating Committee invites nominations from persons who are interested in serving, or nominating someone to serve, as a Commissioner to begin July 1, 2022. Nominators are asked to confirm the nominee’s willingness to serve and to complete a simple form with CV attached. The full description of the role plus the nomination form are here.

Please direct questions to Commission Support Manager Kris Matarrese at kmatarrese@wscuc.org. The nomination period ends December 31, 2021.

The top priorities for the Nominating Committee in this cycle are candidates:

  • who will contribute to the Commission’s diversity, including diversity of race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, disability status, and other underrepresented backgrounds.
  • with expertise in equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism leadership, pedagogy, scholarship, and programming.
  • with expertise in financial matters, including institutional financial planning, management, and sustainability, and financial, legal, or business analysis relevant to higher education and complex business arrangements and transactions.

In addition, all nominees should have a basic interest in accreditation, be committed to student success in higher education, and demonstrate strong experience, independence, and responsibility.


Educational Programming Plans

Fall Webinars

Coming up Friday, November 19, 2021 2:00 PM PT: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment: Evidence to Action with Equity in Next-Generation Assessment Practice and Faculty Development. Our guests will apply their experience and talent to a discussion of what’s changing and important in how we understand student learning:

  • Gianina Baker, Director, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
  • Keston Fulcher, Executive Director, Center for Assessment & Research Studies and Professor of Graduate Psychology, James Madison University
  • Josephine Welsh, Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Data Analytics, Southern CA University of Health Sciences; Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education, President

The October 2021 webinar, Data, Planning, and Change: Evidence to Action and Equity in an Accelerated New Normal, was held Friday, October 29, live from California Association of Institutional Research Conference. Highlights from the 2021 CAIR conference, the importance of community, and a deep dive into moving from evidence to action were featured. Our guests:

  • Rosa Belerique, Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, New York Film Academy. CAIR President
  • Jody Cormack, Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Dean of Graduate Studies, CSU Long Beach
  • Sharlene Sayegh, Director of Institutional Assessment, CSU Long Beach
  • Hector Sambolin, Jr., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Academic Success, and Assessment, Pomona College

ARC2022, San Francisco, April 20-22. Mark your calendars!

We’ll address themes around equity, evidence into action, and coming back together through keynotes, concurrent sessions designed by both WSCUC and our institutions, and ample opportunity for networking and catching up with colleagues and friends.

WSCUC Fellowship

Four projects have been selected for WSCUC’s first Fellowship Program, three led by individuals and one consisting of a team from the California Association of Institutional Research. Fellows will present their work at the ARC2022 and at future Educational Programs workshops and webinars. More about our Fellows here.

Leadership Development Enters its Second Decade

Building on the success of the Assessment Leadership Academy, WSCUC is planning and developing new directions for our signature professional development leadership program, with announcements expected in December.

California Association for Institutional Research

In October, WSCUC Vice Presidents Stephanie Huie and David Chase presented WSCUC’s KID (Key Indicators Dashboard): Advancing Data in Accreditation and hosted a conversation at the Annual Meeting of the California Association for Institutional Research.


New WSCUC Staff

WSCUC is pleased to welcome Dr. Justine Meyr to our Educational Programs team in a brand new role: Curriculum Designer. Justine comes to WSCUC with twenty years of domestic and international experience in education; she holds a PhD in Education from UC Santa Barbara and is an accomplished creator of engaging educational content and researcher. She will work on WSCUC’s Evaluator Training programs and develop content and curricula in all of WSCUC’s Educational Programs and learning activities.