During the 2015–2016 academic year, Wright State University will undergo the 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation, during which time the university’s programs are reviewed to ensure institutional quality and integrity.
The reaccreditation process is an opportunity for introspection and improvement, said Thomas Sudkamp, Ph.D., vice president for curriculum and instruction.
The overriding goals of accreditation are to ensure Wright State meets the standards required and is involved in continuous improvement processes, he said.
“Assembling a large number of people and taking an in-depth look at our policies, procedures and practices gives us an opportunity to identify some things we can do better,” Sudkamp said.
The process also provides an opportunity to highlight how Wright State meets accreditation requirements as well as the programs and opportunities of which the institution is particularly proud.
Led by a group of about 100 administrators, staff and faculty, the university has been preparing for reaccreditation since spring 2013. The campus community and the public will have many opportunities to participate in the process, by attending forums and providing comments on Wright State’s accreditation materials.
Wright State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. An independent corporation, the commission is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional accreditation bodies in the United States. The HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.
As an accredited university, Wright State’s students are able to receive federal financial aid, Sudkamp said.
An integral part of the reaccreditation process is an assurance argument and evidence file that demonstrate how Wright State satisfies the Higher Learning Commission’s criteria for accreditation. Each criterion is defined by a set of core components and associated subcomponents.
The assurance argument must demonstrate that university policies and practices satisfy each core component and subcomponent.
The criteria for accreditation are related to mission, integrity, teaching and learning, resources, planning and institutional effectiveness. The criteria are:
- The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
- The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
- The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
- The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
- The institution’s resources, structures and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.
A steering committee is overseeing the university’s accreditation process, while six subcommittees are responsible for collecting evidence that will be compiled in the assurance argument. Members of the subcommittees come from across the university’s colleges and administration.
Materials produced for accreditation, including the assurance argument document, will be made available to the campus community and the public. Wright State is holding open forums at least once a semester during the process.
The reaccreditation process also includes a comment period during which Wright State must solicit public comments. “We want to get feedback from as many people as we can,” Sudkamp said.
Sudkamp is also communicating about the process with faculty, staff and students with a monthly e-newsletter.
“We want the accreditation process to be totally transparent to the students, faculty, staff and throughout the community,” Sudkamp said.
The reaccreditation process culminates with a two-day peer-review visit by faculty and administrators from other institutions in March 2016. When on campus, the peer reviewers will verify the statements in the assurance argument and supporting documents in the evidence file and meet with the Board of Trustees, administrators, deans, faculty, students and alumni.
“Ideally the visit puts a stamp of approval on all the documentation and work that we’ve done over the last three years,” Sudkamp said.
A new component of the reaccreditation process is a four-year university-wide initiative creating an infrastructure to assess student achievement of the seven learning objectives of the Wright State Core, the university’s general education program.
“Assessing student performance and providing the results to the appropriate faculty and curricular bodies is a critical part of continuous improvement process of undergraduate programs,” Sudkamp said.
The Higher Learning Commission’s website provides details about the accreditation process. The following are a few useful pages: