CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Receives Outstanding Marks from Accrediting Body

Date: 07-15-2009

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico has been reaccredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for 10 years, an exceptionally long period of reaccreditation that represents a major affirmation of the University and its programs and initiatives.

Official word of the 10-year reaccreditation came in a June 26 letter to CSU, Chico President Paul Zingg from WASC President and Executive Director Ralph Wolff. A team of higher education administrators from five U.S. universities visited CSU, Chico in March on behalf of WASC as part of the final phase of a multi-year reaccreditation process.

“Less than five percent of institutions seeking re-accreditation are reaffirmed for the maximum period of time, that is, 10 years,” said Zingg. “In fact, this period of re-affirmation has become even rarer in recent years as WASC has gone to a two-stage process that makes the reviews more, not less, demanding. But the maximum re-accreditation award means that Chico State has been judged as exemplary at all levels of the review and that we stand as a model for other institutions in our region.”

Quoting from the final report of the visiting team, Wolff said CSU, Chico “has done significant and meaningful work to advance the overall educational effectiveness of the university.”

Among the areas singled out for praise by WASC were CSU, Chico’s assessment of student learning, its on-line and off-campus programs, the Diversity Scorecard to track progress in diversity issues and the First-Year Experience program, which aims to help students make a smooth transition into university life.

The WASC visiting team particularly lauded members of the campus community for their affinity for and commitment to CSU, Chico. “The students noted and valued the ‘authentic relationships’ with the faculty and staff at Chico, and spoke with reverence and affection for the campus, and what it has meant to them personally,” the team wrote in its report. “One staff member noted that she felt ‘goose bumps’ in the new sense of pride CSU, Chico had in itself, and noted, even in very difficult economic times, how empowered and confident the campus felt because of the sense that each person is surrounded by people who take a broad-based team-oriented position.”

Later in the report, the team wrote, “CSU, Chico students were emphatic about who they are today: students with high academic values; a desire to be measured by their degree; and engaged in transforming their community.”

“The WASC action affirms that Chico State has presented clear and compelling evidence that we can sustain the strengths demonstrated in the report for the next 10 years,” said Zingg. “This will not be easy, though, as even WASC noted the potential decline in quality, access, affordability, diversity and morale facing all of public higher education in California given the state’s financial crisis and the decline in state support for its universities. The fact that we have performed so well since the last WASC review, despite terrible declines in state support, makes the outcome of this most recent review even more remarkable.”

CSU, Chico’s next official action with regard to its accreditation will not take place until the scheduling of a preparatory review of the University in spring 2019.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude for the outcome of this review to the WASC steering group headed by Senior Vice Provost Arno Rethans,” Zingg said. “But the story that Arno and his colleagues captured is the result of a campuswide effort and the deep, true commitments of our faculty and staff to the success of our students and the work of our University.”

WASC is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. As stated on the WASC Web site, accreditation “is a voluntary dual-purpose process that schools (1) must be worthy of the trust placed in them to provide high-quality learning opportunities and (2) clearly demonstrate continual self-improvement.”