WASC Visit Brings Positive Report

by University Relations

APU’s reaccreditation process through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) continued with the Capacity and Preparatory Review (CPR) March 9–11. The CPR visit involved a comprehensive examination of the university’s structure and resources. The four self-study themes outlined in the Academic Vision 2016 directed the preparation: transformational scholarship, faith integration, God-honoring diversity, and intentional internationalization. Each theme plays an important part in identifying the university’s objectives, one of the key areas that WASC assesses.

During the three-day visit, 7 WASC members participated in 46 meetings, attended by more than 280 staff and faculty, 65 students, and 4 board members. Leading up to the visit, the team also toured APU’s Los Angeles and Inland Empire regional centers. The CPR visit allowed WASC officials to evaluate APU’s infrastructure, including university policies, goals, procedures, and resources, all of which impact the university’s ability to attain academic excellence and achieve its goals and objectives. At the end of the visit, the WASC team commended APU for efforts toward these goals, specifically mentioning staying true to the university’s mission and vision, and effectively addressing faith integration, God-honoring diversity, and intentional internationalization. The team also recommended a continued focus on strategic planning and financial stability.

Though WASC finalizes its official report in June, the initial response indicated a positive review. “These conversations represent the pinnacle of a 24-month-long process of self-reflection and assessment about who we have been called to be as a Christ-centered university,” said President Jon R. Wallace, DBA. “In the exit interview, the team noted that we have a clearly defined mission, articulated vision, and commonly held values. In other words, we understand who we are as a Christ-centered learning community and express commitment in our work.”

“WASC’s team chair, Dr. Larry McKinney, said that our students were our very best ambassadors, and the stories they shared with the visiting team verified we were meeting our academic vision goals,” said Vicky Bowden, DNSc, RN, professor of nursing and WASC accreditation liaison officer. “During a meeting with our international students, some of the WASC members became visibly emotional over the APU experience stories. They clearly saw that we are living out our mission.”

The next and final phase of the process will determine if living out that mission makes a measurable impact on learning outcomes. The CPR paved the way for discussion of issues that need to be addressed for the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER), slated for October 10–12, 2012. That visit enables WASC to 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.