CI begins WASC reaccreditation process

By Ariel Butler

On Sept. 9, Provost Mitch Avila led a town hall meeting dedicated to discussing CI’s upcoming Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reaccreditation. Avila expressed the importance of this process: “We embark on a multi-year journey comprised of campus-wide conversations and collaboration with peers across campus. This is an important journey, but one we can only take together.” 

The WASC Accreditation process is used to monitor the progress of student learning at schools. This process typically runs on an eight-to-10-year cycle. For CI, the launch of this process begins this year. According to the WASC website, this process encourages schools to “demonstrate the capacity, commitment and competence to support high-quality student learning and ongoing school improvement.” 

The reaccreditation process holds much significance for our campus, as self-assessment and improvement will shape the future of CI. However, the process also has legal importance. Avila explained, “To be an accredited institution means you have status with the federal government. You can apply for grants; students can get loans, Pell grants, and Cal Grants. It is absolutely critical for us to be reaccredited.” 

The majority of students at CI receive financial aid, whether in the form of state grants, federal grants or federal loans. Without accreditation, this financial assistance for students would not be possible.  

An important part of this process is identifying themes for the Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation. Provost Avila described this process: “This particular process asks us to identify some themes, collect evidence around those themes, respond as a campus and then show that we responded. One of the most important things regarding accreditation is to engage in honest self-assessment about what is working and what’s not. And from there, we take action to improve as a campus. WASC says, if you are being honest about your strengths and your weaknesses, and responding strategically, then you will be accredited. It is an opportunity for continuous improvement.” 

After identifying thematic pathways and completing a campus assessment, the reaccreditation process will culminate in a WASC visit in 2024, when CI’s reaccreditation status will be decided. 

Throughout the process, there will be several ways for students to be involved. Currently, there is a fall committee for the reaccreditation process, and a similar committee will be formed in the spring. Students will have opportunities to hold seats on this committee. There will also be other opportunities in the form of planning processes and town hall meetings. Avila explained that as the process gets more underway, student involvement will be solicited. 

Ultimately, WASC reaccreditation provides CI an opportunity for improvement and starts a conversation open to all parties on campus. Avila expressed, “What we want to do is have an open and genuine conversation about what kind of campus we want to be, and that’s really what this is about. There are a set of legal reasons for accreditation, but there is a whole other set about identity, values and priorities, and those are the things that are really impactful for us.” 

Throughout the next several years, the CI community will work toward a successful reaccreditation, allowing for the continuation of important financial benefits for students and creating an improved campus. 

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