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Reaffirming business excellence

In 1980, the UW-Eau Claire College of Business was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the world’s largest business education alliance. Every five years since then the college has undergone a continuous improvement review. Our next review takes place September 17-19 when a team of business deans visits our campus. We will learn in spring 2018 if our accreditation has been extended for an additional six years.

To learn more about the AACSB continuous improvement review process and the upcoming peer review visit, Assistant Dean Gretchen Hutterli interviewed Interim Dean Timothy Vaughan.

GH: What is the continuous improvement review?

TV: Once a business school becomes accredited, it is subject to the continuous review process, a rigorous self-evaluation and peer-review process that AACSB-accredited institutions like UW-Eau Claire participate in every five years. Through this process, we demonstrate our continued commitment to 15 quality standards relating to mission and innovation, faculty and staff qualifications, learning and teaching, and academic and professional engagement. An important part of the reaffirmation is the Continuous Improvement Review (CIR) report I submitted this summer. 

GH: Tell us more about the CIR report.

TV:  The content of the report is similar to what you might expect to find in a business plan. It contains an executive summary of innovation, impact and engagement; a situational analysis; an update on our progress since our last AACSB review; and a strategic management and innovation section that included information about our mission, goals, strategic planning process and financial resources. The report also details the qualifications of our faculty and their intellectual contributions, our curriculum development and assurance of learning processes, and the academic and professional engagement of our faculty and students. 

Our 50-page CIR report was accompanied by three volumes of appendices. We also provided vitae for all of our faculty and instructional staff as well as for the faculty from the MBA Consortium partner campuses. 

GH: Another important part of the CIR process is the peer review site visit. Who will be visiting us and what will they do when they are on campus?

TV:  We will be visited and evaluated by a three-person team of current business school deans from AACSB accredited programs that are similar in size and have similar missions to our own. Our team will be led by Dean Faye McIntyre from the University of West Georgia. Other team members are Dean David Sollars from Washburn University, and Dean Ken Petersen from Boise State University. They will be in Eau Claire September 17-19.   

The team will meet with students, faculty and staff, college administrators, and advisory board members to gain additional perspectives on our accomplishments and progress toward achieving our mission. They will present their recommendations to Chancellor Schmidt, Provost Kleine and me prior to leaving campus.

GH: When will we know the outcome of their visit?

TV: We will know the team’s recommendation regarding reaffirmation at their exit interview on September 19. At this meeting, we will learn if the team recommends that our accreditation be extended for an additional six years, or if a one year “CIR-2” review is recommended to address ongoing improvement issues. In the latter case, our accreditation status does not change during the CIR-2 review period. About 28% of AACSB peer review team visits result in a CIR-2.

GH: You mentioned that the visitation team only makes a recommendation. Who makes the final decision?

TV: Our peer review team makes a recommendation to the appropriate AACSB accreditation committees, which must approve the recommendation before forwarding them to the AACSB Board of Directors for ratification. Our accreditation is not “officially” extended until the board ratifies the decision. Ratification generally occurs at the AACSB International Conference and Annual Meeting held each spring. We will “officially” be notified in spring 2018.

GH: Any final thoughts?

TV:  I wrote the CIR report using college-wide input -- from the information cards faculty and staff submitted at the college's August retreat, to the forum discussions we had on various sections of the report, to the vast amount of information we've collected over the years in Sedona, the database our faculty and staff use to maintain their teaching, research, and service records.

I like to think the CIR report turned out very well. I would also say, to the extent it did turn out well, that is because of the vast and varied accomplishments of the faculty, staff, and students I was reporting on. I felt very honored to be able to write the CIR report for this college. I am confident everyone will demonstrate the same high levels of engagement and positive contribution during the peer review team visit.

GH: Thank you for this update, Tim. And, I know I speak for the entire COB faculty and staff when I say thank you for leading the CIR effort for the college.