The Proposal Review Committee of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) not only accepted CSULB’s institutional proposal in preparation of the university’s next accreditation review, it praised the document in its acceptance letter to President F. King Alexander as “among the strongest it has reviewed.”
The panel noted that with the three core commitments of the university’s proposal – organizing for effectiveness, staffing for effectiveness and assessing student success – CSULB is taking on very significant issues as it seeks to improve itself as an institution of higher learning.
“I was contacted by Ralph Wolfe, the president of WASC, who specifically commended us for putting together a model proposal he was hoping to be able to use as a model proposal for other institutions,” President Alexander pointed out. “This clearly indicates the quality of our proposal and the quality of our people being recognized for their achievements and collaborative work.”
Under the direction of David Hood, accreditation liaison officer and professor of history at CSULB, a blue ribbon committee representing all areas within the university worked for nine months on preparing the proposal and submitted it to WASC on Oct. 15.
“The institutional proposal tells WASC the work we are going to do as a campus over the next four years,” Hood pointed out. “The proposal phase received input from many people on the campus, including a survey that was sent out to about 29,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff. With this background and knowing what the campus was thinking, we then developed the research questions we contracted with WASC to work on throughout our accreditation process.”
The WASC Proposal Review Committee “found much to commend” in CSULB’s proposal. “The proposal…revealed a strong awareness not only of CSULB’s own mission and position, but also of the goals of WASC accreditation,” the acceptance letter stated. “The panel felt your proposal among the strongest it has reviewed and saluted its ambitiousness. At the same time, (the members) noted the challenge of maintaining momentum as you manage the many moving pieces of this comprehensive review over the coming years.
“The panel is confident that given CSULB’s strong leadership and the spirit of collegiality and collaboration that characterized both the plan and our conversation,” the letter continued, “the institution will meet this challenge and provide leadership for the region as a whole.”
There isn’t much time to rest on the laurels of the committee, however. There are two more reviews for which the campus has to prepare. The first is called the Capacity and Preparatory Review (CPR), a compliance review to make sure the campus has enough books in the library, enough faculty in the classrooms, etc. The CPR is set for spring 2009.
The final review, which is scheduled for fall 2010, is the Educational Effectiveness Review, and it is a measure of student learning in the classroom.
“In other words, are the students taking out of the classroom, the skills, the knowledge and the abilities that they need to be functioning members of society,” Hood explained of the final review. “Measuring the campus’ effectiveness in this area is a long and involved process. There are a number of ways to measure educational effectiveness; for instance, some departments use the portfolio method where graduating seniors create a portfolio of their work to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject area.”
First things first, though. Hood is in the process of recruiting and appointing individuals to study the research questions that were part of the institutional proposal. “I want to encourage people on campus to take a look at those research questions and volunteer for them,” he said.
Members of the campus community interested in reviewing the institutional proposal can visit the WASC Web site . Within the proposal, the research questions can be found in the “Executive Summary” section under “Framing the Review Process.”