Long Beach State’s accreditation is up for review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission next year.
To be reviewed by the WSCUC, institutions must present a 50-page self-study, which is then reviewed by commissioners offsite. The document must address nine different components. From there, an onsite visit of the school is conducted, four to six months later that lasts three days.
“Our campus received a nine-year reaffirmation of accreditation in February 2011 [and] the typical accreditation is eight years,” said Sharlene Sayegh, director of program review and assessment. “This vote of confidence from the WASC accreditation confirms that we have exceeded the criteria set by the commission.”
In 2017 the commission chose CSULB as one of several institutions that were in good standing, with almost 10 years of accreditation, to participate in a new reaffirmation program named the Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation.
This opportunity allowed the school to select themes that were reflective of CSULB’s ideals of the institution. The school’s themes were intellectual achievement, inclusive excellence and the public good.
With the introduction of TPR, the process is streamlined and there is no offsite review needed. The onsite inspection is set for October 2020.
During the onsite inspection, Sayegh said that the committee is excited to learn more about institutional initiatives or projects to promote student success.
The school’s pending accreditation is being overseen by the WASC Steering Committee (with ASI representation), which was established by the Academic Senate. The submission is due August 2020.
“We hope our students understand the process for re-affirmation, simply because an accreditation says that our graduates have a highly-valued degree,” said Jody Cormack, vice provost for academic programs and dean of graduate studies. “An accreditation also tells any outside agency or employer that our students received a quality education.”
According to the WASC website, the purpose of the committee is a voluntary, non-governmental, institutional accreditation that is granted by the US Department of Education at the completion of a peer-review process. It assures the educational community, the general public and other organizations that an accredited institution has standards of quality and effectiveness.
Accreditation is the California State University and the University of California standard, and it can be granted to nonprofit, for-profit, public, private, two and four-year organizations.
The school’s pending accreditation is important for students because only accredited institutions can distribute federal and state financial aid for students.
“Accreditation is vital to the value of our degrees,” said Jessica Pandya, the department chair of Liberal Studies. “In this process, students can give input on what works, what needs improvement and [what] can help write the report through ASI reps to the committee.”
The school has maintained its status as an accredited institution recognized by the WSCUC by continuing to submit regularly scheduled mid-cycle reports. This includes an interim report in 2015 and a progress report in 2018, which is the standard for accreditation.
“Our accreditation is also an affirmation that CSULB has received an objective stamp of approval, which then ensures a highly-valued degree for all our graduates,” Sayegh said.