WASC team comes to campus for Farm’s reappraisal

Dec. 1, 2010, 2:03 a.m.

A five-member review team from the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities concludes its three-day visit today, marking the critical second leg in Stanford’s three-stage reaccreditation process that began in January 2007.

Representing the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the committee offers accreditation to institutions offering undergraduate and graduate educations in California, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Basin. Its members include faculty and administrators from UC-Irvine, MIT, Princeton, Caltech and the University of Hawaii.

The team attended presentations from administrative officials and two open forums on Wednesday, one each for faculty and students, to give the Stanford community a chance to comment on the school’s effectiveness. Some of the major points of assessment and discussion include the University’s financial status, residential education, research, undergraduate advising and student affairs.

As part of the second cycle — dubbed the “capacity and preparatory review” — Stanford has also submitted a 35-page report evaluating undergraduate programs in foreign language and writing and rhetoric. The report, which included 12 data exhibits and 28 appendices, focused on the progress of first- and second-year students taking the most popular languages on campus, French, Spanish and Chinese, as well as the effectiveness of the first-year writing program and writing-in-the-major programs.

Although the end date for reaccreditation is not expected until late 2012 or early 2013, the University has already taken steps to assure that it complies with the association’s core standards, endeavors chronicled on the Stanford Reaccreditation by WASC website.

As early as the fall of 2008, the Stanford Accreditation Steering Committee, a 50-person group specifically created to guide the University during the accreditation process, surveyed a cross-section of the current junior class and has been conducting quarterly meetings with these students to hear about their experiences on the Farm.

According to the website, WASC has four core standards: 1) defining the University’s purpose and setting appropriate educational objectives; 2) achieving these educational objectives through “teaching and learning, scholarship and creative activity, and support for student learning;” 3) developing methods to sustain these objectives; 4) “creating an organization committed to learning.”

The final cycle, “educational effectiveness review,” will take place in fall 2012. Stanford was last accredited in 2000.

–Cassandra Feliciano

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