||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Prepares|
For NCA Evaluation
MAILED: April 13, 1999|
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is preparing this year for a periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The voluntary process, which is carried out every 10 years by the NCA Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, helps to assure quality and assists in the improvement of participating institutions.
Since the last NCA accreditation review in 1989, remarkable things have happened at UW-Eau Claire. Virtually every aspect of the institution has experienced change. Those changes ensure that UW-Eau Claire will remain a nationally recognized comprehensive university, providing excellence in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs, said Chancellor Donald Mash. For example:
Last fall NCA liaison John Taylor met with university officials to discuss the upcoming evaluation. He said NCA reviews are based on the institution's mission, resources, educational offerings and services, planning processes and governance, and regional services to the outside community. The process involves self-study and peer evaluation.
"The peer evaluation team comes to campus to validate the self-study and also acts as a consulting service to make recommendations for areas of improvement," Taylor said.
Long before his visit, the NCA Steering Committee had begun the process of preparing for the evaluation.
"We focused on finding a way to utilize the reaccreditation review as the next step in the renewal process," said co-chair Joe Hisrich. Because extensive systems of planning and review already existed, because the university had just reorganized administratively and because the curriculum had just been revamped, it seemed prudent to use the NCA self-study as a means of assessing these changes, he said.
Throughout the 1997 fall semester committee members identified what data, information and reports were needed for the self-study, determined the appropriate sources of those data and reports, and established guidelines and a timeline. During the spring 1998 semester when the departments and units were updating their five-year plans and when select committees were generating special reports for the self-study, the steering committee formulated an outline and met with various constituencies across campus.
The first draft of the self-study, a 150-page document plus 11 appendices, was ready in January for review, comments and feedback from the university community. The chapters are organized around the criteria established by the NCA and focus on five areas: mission, resources, accomplishments, planning and integrity.
After campuswide review, the steering committee took comments at a series of campus meetings in March. Co-chair Joan Myers said the final draft of the self-study will be published this summer and sent to the NCA in August.
Public comments about the university also are sought. These go directly to NCA to be reviewed relative to the self-study and also with Mash. The public is invited to submit comments about UW-Eau Claire to: Public Comment on UW-Eau Claire, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, North Central Association, 30 N. La Salle St., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504. Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing and signed; comments cannot be treated as confidential. All comments must be received by Aug. 27.
The site review team, consisting of seven or eight members, will visit the campus Sept. 27-29. They will meet with administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni. At the end of their visit they will discuss their findings and recommendations with the chancellor. Their final written report will be received about six months later.
"While we have every reason to believe continued accreditation will be the outcome of this evaluation, we welcome this opportunity for reflection and review. It is one of the tools we will use to move this outstanding university to the next level of excellence," Mash said.
- A major reorganization of the administrative structure provided streamlined and efficient services as well as better coordination and communication among divisions.
- An extensive review of the curriculum resulted in a revised baccalaureate degree, redefined majors, fine-tuning of general education and a reduction in the number of credits needed for graduation.
- The development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment plan ensured the credibility of curricular changes.
- The receipt of a Title III grant served as the impetus for the technological transformation of the campus.
- A major task force on minority recruitment and retention set forth a series of recommendations designed to foster an appreciation of diversity. These have been adopted and have yielded positive results.
- Students have played a larger role in the governance of UW-Eau Claire, as evidenced by their support to raise tuition to enhance aspects of the redefined degree plan.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 13, 1999