By Sharon Knox
UC Davis’ campuswide accreditation has been reaffirmed for the next 10 years, following a comprehensive review that involved collaboration by faculty, administration and staff.
In an action letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges-Senior College and University Commission (or WSCUC, formerly WASC) dated July 7, accreditation was reaffirmed through June 2024. In addition to a standard mid-cycle review to take place in spring 2019, the letter calls for a special visit in fall 2017 to review the university’s progress on academic assessment, undergraduate program review, and the 2020 Initiative.
The commission praised UC Davis’ “demonstrated commitment to student success; effective cross-departmental collaborations; welldefined trajectories for institutionalizing educationally effective practices and processes; faculty’s ownership of and active engagement with program review; and senate and administrative leadership that have worked collaboratively to pursue an evidence-based approach to organizational change.”
The reaccreditation effort was led by Carolyn Thomas, vice provost and dean for Undergraduate Education, who serves as UC Davis’ accreditation liaison officer. A Joint Senate-Administration WSCUC Steering Committee worked extensively with Thomas' team throughout the process, beginning in 2012 with an institutional self-review, and concluding with an on-site visit in April 2014. Thomas noted the dedication of Academic Senate Chair Bruno Nachtergaele and Vice Chair Andre Knoesen.
“Our education mission stands at the core of everything we do, and this achievement demonstrates the commitment across our entire institution to providing a world-class learning experience for our students,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Kateh said. “The accreditation process is a major undertaking. We owe Carolyn, Bruno and Andre—and their entire teams—a sincere debt of gratitude for their leadership and effort in managing this process.”
Thomas said: “What began as a process that was, at times, regarded as a bureaucratic exercise turned out to be an opportunity for honest self-reflection and dialogue leading to new, highly productive collaborations, which are already beginning to produce tangible results.
“As a campus, we have reprioritized academic advising, adding considerable resources to support that community. And we identified ways to better link the findings from undergraduate program review to concrete actions that improve students’ academic experiences. Both of these improvements are direct outgrowths of our WSCUC review process.”
"Our faculty's strong commitment to assure our students have a meaningful, high quality educational experience was evident to the WSCUC reviewers," said Knoesen.
The WSCUC action letter indicated three areas for follow-up in 2017:
- Assessment — Demonstrate how data gathered about student learning outcomes are used consistently across all departments to guide improvement.
- Program review — Show how direct evidence of student learning has been incorporated into the program review process and how the results of program review are used in the allocation of resources.
- 2020 Initiative — Update the commission on the implementation of the 2020 Initiative with specific attention to the faculty-student ratio; ladder rank vs. nonladder rank faculty; faculty diversity; level of course impaction; changes in staffing; advising; academic support and student services; and facilities.
Thomas expressed confidence in the prospect of continued campus collaboration in each of these areas. “As a campus, we’re already working to ensure that the quality of a UC Davis education will continue to rise as the 2020 Initiative is implemented,” she said. “The biggest opportunity for us, in preparing for the 2017 follow-up, will be building a cross-campus understanding of assessment an integral part of excellent teaching.”
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