Western embarked in fall 2011 on a university-wide journey of institutional reflection and renewal to achieve reaccreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). For nearly six decades, Western’s success in providing generations of students with a well-rounded college education built on the foundations of an outstanding faculty, committed staff and solid infrastructure has received validation from NEASC, whose Commission on Institutions of Higher Education serves as the regional accreditation agency for colleges and universities in the New England region. WCSU received its most recent reaccreditation in 2003 and currently is in the midst of a comprehensive and inclusive self-study in preparation for the next NEASC evaluation team visit to campus in fall 2013.
The example set in the university’s Strategic Planning Initiative for inclusive participation provided the model for structuring the self-study process. In July 2011, President James W. Schmotter appointed a 12-member steering committee drawn from the university administration and faculty to plan and manage the reaccreditation process. Committees formed in fall 2011 took the important tasks of gathering statistical and survey data, conducting analyses and drafting reports evaluating the university’s performance measured by each of the 11 standards established by the NEASC. Membership of the standards committees includes faculty from the university’s four academic schools as well as Western students and administrators. Committee members participated in a NEASC workshop in October 2011 to familiarize themselves with current accreditation standards and met on a regular basis during the spring semester to meet the June 2012 deadline for submission of standards report drafts to the steering committee. The committees received valuable input from followup reviews conducted at President Schmotter’s request by participants in the Values and Vision process to evaluate progress in fulfilling Strategic Plan objectives.