By Chelsea Vitone
On October 8, 2013, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., UWT played host to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Accreditation (NWCCU) Site Visit. The NWCCU is “an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington,” according to the NWCCU website. Site team member Rebecca Johnson—Vice President at the University of Oregon Cascades—came to the UWT campus to conduct the septennial accreditation report. According to the Encarta Dictionary, accreditation is the process by which universities receive official recognition. Vice President Johnson stresses the importance of accreditation in order to enable credit transferability within establishments, acceptance into graduate school, and even for how employers value an applicant’s educational background. Regular reports are important to establish and maintain standards in staffing and financial resources for each university.
UWT compiled an over three hundred-eighty page self-evaluation report, a type of protocol in order to maintain their accreditation status, and it is the site team member’s job to ensure that this protocol is in fact being followed. Johnson says that evaluation is important since it “makes a university pause and take stock in what they’re doing.” Degree programs are evaluated every ten years in the same fashion and for the same reason, in order to check that each is keeping up with its standards.
During the student engagement evaluation, five student representatives fielded questions and offered comments on a number of topics. Each student had unique university experience, including Peter Pentescu, ASUWT President , Chantell Munoz, senator for ASUWT, Anna Huynh with Student Activities Board, and Iris Song with International Student Services. Topics ranged from ease of transfer to UWT, relevance of course evaluation, capstone courses, and student government efficacy to tri-campus involvement, student life and what affects a student’s choice of the Tacoma campus.
Each answer and/or comment was recorded carefully by Johnson to submit the information to the Commission. Any advice or issues will be brought to the attention of those capable of making changes. Site team member’s reports are due by March 3, 2014, and the university should have its accreditation status reviewed by the board of the NWCCU by June 25 and 26, 2014.