Pomona Nears End of WASC Accreditation Process

Pomona College is nearing the end of a three-year re-accreditation process conducted by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Re-accreditation is a voluntary process but is necessary in order to maintain an accredited status, which allows the college to receive federal funds, according to Dean of the College Cecilia Conrad.

While “there will be no visible change at Pomona after re-accreditation,” the process has still been very time-consuming, Conrad said.

Re-accreditation begins when an institution submits a proposal for a review, followed by a visit from a WASC member who makes an initial assessment. A second visit to evaluate “educational effectiveness” occurs approximately 18 months to two years after the initial visit. Once accreditation (or re-accreditation) is granted, an institution waits seven to 10 years before it undergoes re-accreditation.

As defined by the WASC’s website, the function of re-accreditation is to “aid institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs” so that higher standards of education within the academic community will continue to be endorsed and achieved. Pomona College is being evaluated by WASC’s Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, which looks at institutions throughout California, Hawaii, the Pacific Basin, and Guam. The commission evaluates an entire institution rather than “individual programs,” focusing specifically on “institutional structures, processes, and resources” that compose the school community at large.

According to the WASC, accreditation is imperative in leveling the playing field between private and public institutions. By encouraging the evolution of standards for higher learning and fostering the “active interchange of ideas among public and independent institutions that furthers the principles of improved institutional performance,” the WASC tries to make education more far-reaching and concurrent from school to school.

In an e-mail addressed to the college, Conrad listed the goals in Pomona’s proposal as “enhancing writing across the curriculum, evaluating and strengthening the major, and creating and supporting a diverse community.”

The e-mail also included reports on these projects, which specifically define each of those objectives. Chief among these goals are “Facilitating Access to the Full Pomona College Experience for Students of All Socioeconomic Backgrounds” and a complete assessment of first-year ID1 classes in order to promote the teaching of writing “across the curriculum.” These essays and others are available through the Pomona College Web File System.

A forum regarding WASC re-accreditation occurred for staff and faculty on Tuesday, Nov. 9. A forum for students to discuss these reports will be held at 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 18 in Frank Dining Hall’s Blue Room.

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