SUU's Re-Accreditation Affirmed with CommendationsOctober 30, 2003
Author: Renee Ballenger
After a two-and-a-half year process, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) has reaffirmed the accreditation of Southern Utah University.
The University has, of course, been an accredited institution for decades; this most recent process has been that of re-accreditation examination which is required every 10 years.
Pursuance of accreditation by the University, and, of course the achievement of it, is a statement of philosophy and objective of the faculty, staff and programs of the institution.
For students and alumni, the process is a statement of superior higher education.
For the friends and public, it is a statement of SUU's sterling reputation, purpose and influence on the community, state and beyond.
A formal written report, with very specific detail, is expected in January, however, during its concluding visit to the Cedar City campus earlier this week, the Northwest team issued some specific commendations to SUU.
One of the most encouraging was the team’s acknowledgement that in a time of rapid change with multiple external pressures and sometimes contradictory expectations, SUU has stayed focused.
The team praised SUU for its evident personalized learning climate and student centered-campus.
Additionally, they complimented the beauty and efficient maintenance of the campus, highlighting the standard operations procedures to regularly conserve water and energy, and the leading example set here for all other institutions in the state.
Interestingly, the Recommendations that the Team made were equally encouraging, because most are already being addressed and in various stages of development. For instance, committees are well on their way in revising the University’s mission statement and vision & goals declaration. Two in-house teams made up of individuals representing all facets of campus are pursuing the development of University Marketing and Strategic Plans. Also, some comprehensive fine-tuning of the catalogue that will make for more timely student academic planning is an assured dynamic. “From the outset, we suggested than an ideal outcome was if our self-study report meshed with the conclusions of the NWCCU evaluators,” Dr. Earl Mulderink, associate professor of history, chair of the social sciences department, and chair of the Accreditation Steering Committee, explains. “And this appears to be the case. We don’t think there were any surprises to them or to us, which, again, is the goal of an effective self-study process and product.”
President Bennion congratulated the entire campus for Herculean efforts over the last 30 months. He will host a celebration and thank you get-together next week. “This lengthy, massive campuswide effort over the past 2.5 years was successful because of the extensive work of many on campus, both officially and unofficially,” Mulderink states. “The process and the 250-page self-study report were all executed in-house by our own colleagues and experts.”
Besides the report, SUU provided a mountain of documentation and evidence for the Northwest evaluation team, including exhibits, files, publications, templates, publications, etc. The team expressed appreciation for SUU’s “forthright” presentation of information and discussions with a range of University stakeholders.
Accreditation is a lot of things to many specialized units on the SUU campus. It is a total quality management initiative--good for everyone, really.
Indeed, the ultimate objective of accreditation is to help build an ideal program that attracts quality students, and that requires reputation which is equivalent to faculty, programs and graduates who are sought after. Accreditation enables a refreshed focus on challenges and a celebration of strengths, further equipping the University to define and fulfill its destiny.
“It is an instance in which we learn, again, that change is continuous, as is improving ourselves as an institution,” Mulderink offers. “At a place where Learning Lives Forever, a philosophy of always examining how we can do things better is healthy, welcome, and practiced.”