APU Prepares for WASC Visits

by University Relations

Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 1962, Azusa Pacific University gears up for a more current accreditation, including visits from WASC in spring 2011 and fall 2012. Driving the process, four self-study themes outlined in the Academic Vision 2016 give structure and direction to the preparation: transformational scholarship, faith integration, God-honoring diversity, and intentional internationalization. Each theme plays an important part in identifying the objectives of the university, one of the key areas that WASC assesses.

“The WASC accreditation process enables us to demonstrate that we provide our students with a high-quality academic program centered on a dynamic mission—to ‘encourage students to develop a Christian perspective of truth and life,’” said Michael Whyte, Ph.D., provost. “The upcoming visits focus on our capacity to provide excellent academic curriculum and our ability to deliver educational effectiveness.”

To prepare, faculty councils and task forces, each focused on one of the four themes, will meet to assess the university’s progress toward exemplifying these principles in both day-to-day activities as well as in overarching structure. These groups work to identify APU’s weaknesses and explore effective solutions. Issues to be addressed include the recognition and support of transformational scholarship through resource allocation and university infrastructure; faith integration both at the classroom and administrative levels; hiring processes, policies, and programs that demonstrate God-honoring diversity; and developing an infrastructure that better exudes intentional internationalization.

Additionally, students will be asked to participate in focus groups to help the faculty councils and task forces understand how effectively these themes are incorporated on campus from a student perspective. These vital components show accreditation teams how the university can better serve the student body.

Each visit serves a specific purpose. The 2011 Capacity and Preparatory Review, scheduled for March 9–11, 2011, enables WASC officials to witness APU’s infrastructure, including university policies, goals, procedures, and resources, all of which impact the university’s ability to carry out academic excellence and achieve its goals and objectives. It also allows discussion of issues that need to be addressed for the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER), which will occur October 10–12, 2012. The EER will evaluate the effectiveness of student learning as it relates to academic achievement and institutional learning, which involves visible plans for improving performance throughout the university.

“WASC accreditation is essential for any university that wants to be credible in the world of academia,” said Vicky Bowden, DNSc, RN, professor of nursing and WASC accreditation liaison officer. “Though APU has already achieved the status of a respected academic institution, this newest accreditation process assures both the present and prospective APU community of our commitment to excellence.”