KEY ELEMENTS OF INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW PROCESS
The WSCUC Institutional Review Process consists of four stages – self-study, institutional report, off-site review, and accreditation visit. At the conclusion of the peer review process, accreditation is re-affirmed for six, eight, or ten years.
1. SELF-STUDY – conducted in 2015-16
The self-study is the institution’s process of gathering data and reflecting on its current functioning and effectiveness under the Standards. A candid self-study, with broad engagement of the institutional community, provides the foundation for a high quality institutional report. More than 100 employees participated in our self-review, led by the Review Steering Committee.
REVIEW UNDER WSCUC STANDARDS & COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS
Federal law requires every institution coming under review for reaffirmation of accreditation to demonstrate that it is in compliance with the Standards and CFRs of the accrediting association. In addition, the Commission requires that the institution have in place policies and procedures considered essential for sound academic practice. WSCUC provides two documents— Review under the WSCUC Standards and Compliance with Federal Requirements; and Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators—to assist institutions in reflecting and reporting on their compliance with these expectations.
The Self-Review under the Standards (Staff) was the topic of many conversations at Jessup. Initially the self-review was completed by the WSCUC Review Steering Committee. The form was completed by the staff and administration at an employee gathering in June 2015 and by faculty in November 2015. The results were discussed by the Steering Committee to analyze more deeply the areas identified as strengths and opportunities for development and presented to the president, first in summer 2015 and, once consolidated, in January 2016. The recommendations were presented to the Executive Team by steering committee and task force members at the Institutional Review Kickoff that month. (See exhibit 2.3, Evidence of WSCUC Standards by CFR, for documentation to support self-review findings.)
2. INSTITUTIONAL REPORT – completed in Fall ’16; submitted to WSCUC February 23, 2017
The Institutional Report represents a broad-based inquiry, engaging all employees in our ongoing discussion of Christian liberal arts education but drawing upon the work of faculty, student development staff, and the administration in their respective areas of expertise. The essays represent our honest effort to describe the current situation, identify accomplishments, analyze weaknesses, and propose changes for the university to address in the future. The final report was reviewed by the Educational Services and Executive committees of the Board at their February 2017 meeting.
The bulk of the report assumes the stance of an action research project built upon the hypothesis that Jessup successfully prepares transformational leaders and follows the pattern prescribed in the WSCUC Handbook to explore these five sub-themes:
- Jessup degrees are well-crafted to fulfill its mission with meaning, quality, and integrity. (essay 3)
- Graduates are prepared for transformational leadership by the time of graduation. (essay 4)
- Jessup empowers transformational leaders to engage in a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, spiritual formation, and service to their local and global communities. (essay 5)
- The academic program review is a reflective process of inquiry to assess program quality, rigor, and sustainability. (essay 6)
- Planning processes at the institution align resources and needs with the strategic objectives of the institution. (essay 7)
We present our academic and co-curricular programs in essay 3 and document the coherence of our educational offerings, which are aligned with high-quality practices and rigorous standards of excellence. The architecture of our assessment plan for the University Learning Goals is described in essay 4, where we offer evidence of the processes we have in place to demonstrate educational effectiveness in our academic programs and of the learning that has occurred and as we prove that our curriculum effectively prepares students for transformational leadership in the 21st century.
In essay 5, we explore three themes that emerged from document review to express student success: retention and graduation; employability; and demonstration of the lived values of leadership development, thriving spirituality, and community engagement. Quality assurance and improvement through data-informed program review processes ensure continuous institutional learning, as described in essay 6.
Finally, the report on strategic thinking and planning in essay 7 captures the many improvements we have made in institutional planning and offer a realistic financial picture to support our future. Our conclusion, then, is really more of a caesura, for the end of our story is but a pause as we consider our place in the changing landscape of higher education.
3. OFF-SITE REVIEW – May 4, 2017
- Takes place on one day in WSCUC offices
- Focuses on institutional report
- Includes a video conference with institutional representatives who serve on the visit team
- Results in “Lines of Inquiry” document sent to institution by team
- No Commission action taken
The Summary of Lines of Inquiry document identifies six lines of inquiry for the Accreditation Visit that are derived from William Jessup University’s report. In addition, this document includes questions or issues the team discussed during the Offsite Review that may be pursued during the visit. The team does not expect or invite a written response to these questions before the Accreditation Visit. The only written materials that the team expects from the institution before the visit are those listed in Section IV: “The team requests that the institution supply the following additional documents and information before the Accreditation Visit.”
- We commend William Jessup University for managing its impressive enrollment growth and the addition of new programs through the formation of the Academic Program Development structure.
- The team was impressed with William Jessup University’s campus facilities planning and expansion.
- We commend William Jessup University for the development and assessment of the University Learning Goals and their alignment with the WSCUC Core Competencies.
- It was evident throughout the institutional report that William Jessup University stakeholders have a strong sense of mission and ownership in developing students as Transformational Leaders for the glory of God.
- We commend William Jessup University for its broad engagement of the community in identifying challenges and areas for improvement including: Finances, Assessment and Strategic Planning.
- We commend William Jessup University for inclusion of Lived Values within its definition of student success.
Lines of Inquiry
The team has identified the following lines of inquiry for the Accreditation Visit:
- Financial Sustainability: support for projected enrollment and fundraising goals that establish the University’s confidence level in its ability to achieve these goals. What are the contingency plans if the goals are not met?
- Strategic Planning: how the strategic planning process has matured over the past five years, and how it engages the campus community, is data driven, and is connected to the allocation of resources.
- Assessment Infrastructure: the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the assessment infrastructure in evaluating all areas including student learning in the discipline, core competencies and general education. The team will consider how the assessment infrastructure examines educational effectiveness and has mechanisms for identifying problems and finding solutions. This includes assurance that students are consistently meeting the standards of performance established by the academic discipline and the University.
- Transformational Leadership: how transformational leadership is being integrated into the curriculum and co-curriculum and how it is being assessed.
- Program Review: the role of program review in ensuring the integrity and coherence of the curriculum. The team will explore how annual assessment (with supporting data) is a part of the program review process and the extent to which it includes co-curricular programs.
- Student Success: the ongoing efforts and strategies to promote student success including compilation and analysis of retention and completion data disaggregated to identify possible at-risk student populations.
4. ACCREDITATION VISIT — November 14-16, 2017
The three-day visit takes place six months after the Offsite Review. During the visit, the team meets with campus representatives to follow up on outstanding issues and verify or revise its preliminary findings concerning both compliance and improvement. The institution has an opportunity to demonstrate how it has responded to issues raised or questions asked at the time of the Offsite Review and to fill any gaps in the picture it wishes to present of itself. Following the visit, the team shares its draft team report with the institution for correction of errors of fact and challenges related to proprietary information. The team then finalizes the team report and forwards it to the Commission for action.
How is the decision made?
- A panel of WSCUC Commissioners reads visiting team report and documentation including institution’s written response, talks with institutional representatives at Commission meeting
- The panel makes recommendation to Commission, and Commission acts
- Staff finalizes draft action letter on behalf of Commission
- Letter and team report are publicly available on WSCUC website
- Link provided on WSCUC website, if desired, to institution’s response to team report