Stanford submits institutional report for reaffirmation of accreditation by the WASC Senior College & University Commission
Stanford’s WSCUC report focuses on two themes: Advancing Undergraduate Education and Supporting Our Community for Success.
Stanford submitted its institutional report, also known as a self-study, to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) for renewal of its accreditation.
The self-study is one step in a two-year process in which WSCUC reviews the university’s governance, compliance with accreditation standards, quality assurance, and degree programs. Stanford’s institutional report is the culmination of a process of investigation, document gathering, and data analysis.
The full report can be viewed here.
Accreditation serves an important function to ensure that universities and colleges meet certain standards. Significantly, an institution must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency in order for students to be eligible to receive federal financial aid.
The accreditation process allows Stanford to showcase the work that it has done to continually improve its educational offerings. The regular cycle of accreditation visits and self-studies encourages the Stanford community to think critically about how to measure and qualitatively evaluate initiatives and provides a structure and a timeline to conduct regular assessments.
For this accreditation cycle, Stanford is participating in the “Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation”(TPR), a new process for review that allows institutions to focus on selected areas for investigation. For the extensive self-study, Stanford focused on two themes:
- Advancing Undergraduate Education, which examines recent reforms to the undergraduate curriculum including the COLLEGE program and reforms to the undergraduate major. COLLEGE (Civic, Liberal, and Global Education) is a requirement for first-year students.
- Supporting our Community for Success, which examines emerging assessment data about the experiences of Stanford community members and seeks to understand how programs, initiatives, and practices under the umbrella of the IDEAL initiative (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning Environment) address community needs.
Stanford’s accreditation efforts are directed by a steering committee, which is supported by an advisory committee of faculty and staff from across the university. Led by Stephanie Kalfayan, vice provost for academic affairs and the university’s accreditation liaison officer to WSCUC, the steering committee includes Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Sarah Church, Vice Provost of Graduate Education Stacey Bent, the associate vice provosts of undergraduate and graduate education, as well as staff from Institutional Research & Decision Support (IR&DS), the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) and the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE).
“I want to thank the steering committee for their hard work and diligence. I also want to acknowledge the faculty and staff members who participate regularly in learning outcomes assessment, program review, and other ongoing processes that support our accreditation. The self-study and visit occur against the backdrop of this important ongoing work by many members of the community to review and assure quality in our educational programs,” said Provost Persis Drell.
Producing the self-study involved extensive university community involvement, including meetings with many campus groups. Presentations in the Faculty Senate and with other campus governance bodies provided opportunities for dialogue and community input on key initiatives described in the self-study, such as the IDEAL DEI Survey and the reforms to undergraduate education described in the report.
“During our conversations with a broad range of constituents across the university, rethinking liberal education and supporting efforts for diversity and inclusion were the topics most often at the forefront,” said Kalfayan. “The Stanford community has been actively engaged with these issues since we embarked on the Long-Range Vision (LRV). Our approach to our self-study has been to leverage and extend the work of the LRV to reflect the community’s focus on these efforts.”
The process of gathering information and conducting the self-study propelled the university forward in several ways.
James Hamilton, chair of the First Year Governance Board (FYGB) and professor of communication, commented on how the WSCUC process sparked additional conversations about assessment within the Board, which provides feedback on COLLEGE courses as they are proposed, taught, and evaluated.
“The drafting of the WSCUC report generated many detailed discussions involving faculty and staff, particularly VPUE’s Assessment and Program Evaluation team, about data collection and analysis. In fall 2025, the Faculty Senate will have much better information to analyze the operation of COLLEGE because of discussions generated by the WSCUC process,” Hamilton said.
Discussions for the self-study also revealed some areas where the university can focus its attention in furthering the goals of IDEAL, in particular on reporting harmful incidents, supporting the non-binary and disability communities, and providing trainings and resources.
As part of the process, an accreditation team will visit the Stanford campus March 15-17, 2023. Members of the accreditation visit team are listed here.
The purpose of the visit is for team members to assess the thoroughness and accuracy of the self-study and to gain a deeper understanding of Stanford through conversations with faculty, students, and administrators; to explore any issues raised by the report; and ultimately to recommend to the commission a continuing accreditation status. Following a review process, the commission will make a final determination in June 2023.
More details about the visit will be shared with the community closer to the visit dates. Students, staff, faculty, and other members of the university community also may submit feedback to the accreditation steering committee, anonymously if they wish, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WSCUC is one of seven accrediting commissions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and it accredits more than 200 institutions. Stanford was last reviewed in 2013. Documents from that process can be found here.
For more information on Stanford’s reaccreditation process visit the website.