TO: Gonzaga Faculty, Staff and Administrators
FROM: Thayne M. McCulloh, Ph.D.
SUBJ: Appointment of Institutional Accreditation Steering Committee
DATE: January 14, 2011
As I believe most of you know, we have begun another institutional accreditation cycle. Gonzaga had its last major site visit in the spring of 2004 and was scheduled for its next one in spring 2014. In the meantime, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), our regional accrediting entity, has revamped its process from a ten-year cycle to one that takes seven years. In short, the cycle has been accelerated and we now find ourselves in the first year of the new accreditation cycle.
The new cycle requires a written report at years One, Three, Five and Seven, with on-site follow-up visits from our colleagues who act as accreditors for the Commission in years Five and Seven. For us, on our cycle, this means that by March 1, 2011 (a scant forty days or so from now), we must turn in our first-year report. The Commission has already asked us to schedule, and we have agreed to host, our Year Three site visit to take place April 23-25, 2012.
Since the retirement of Jim Vache as Accreditation Liaison Officer last spring, AVP Patricia O’Connell Killen and I have asked Chief of Staff, Mike Herzog, to accept the duties of this position, and he has been working on various aspects of the accreditation process since last summer. The initial milestones in this work have consisted of (a) appointing a steering committee to oversee our accreditation preparation and (b) identifying the institutional “Core Themes” the NWCCU asks us to rely on in demonstrating how we carry out our institutional mission. (It should be noted that the “Core Themes” are not the same as the Baccalaureate Learning Goals generated out of the Core Curriculum Review process.) It is with both pleasure and gratitude that I announce the members of the Steering Committee to you, and ask you to be as generous with your time and energy as possible in helping them to get done this work, which is essential to our continued accreditation. Members of this committee will be asking many of you to play an active role in this work over the next few years.
Accreditation Steering Committee:
Herzog, Mike, Chair
Clancy, Timothy, S.J.
Fitzgibbons, John S.J.
Krall, Ken, S.J.
Volbrecht, Rose Mary
The committee is intended to be representative and to give voice to all the areas of the institution that are involved in accreditation—which means ALL areas of the institution. Because the Commission’s new approach to accreditation means, in fact, that we will always be involved in this work, I am appointing a rather large group that gives us the best opportunity to maintain continuity over time. Even at this point, we do not have full representation, as we continue to shape the committee and respond to the real-life pressures and needs that prevent some members of our community from serving at this time but perhaps joining the work of the committee later. In other words, the membership of this committee must be seen as fluid, changing over time, but continuing to be representative of all areas of Gonzaga. I am very grateful to the members of the committee for their willingness to serve, and I am certain that their work will be productive and fruitful.
Let me also take this occasion to share with you the revised core themes for our accreditation process, as approved by the Board of Trustees at their December meeting. In August, Mike Herzog presented at the faculty conference our best effort at institutional core themes. Subsequently, we asked the NWCCU for feedback on these themes and were advised that our formulation of our core themes might not serve us as well as we might expect, considering the new process. We then reformulated our themes into what appears to be more in keeping with the NWCCU process, and this new formulation was approved by the Trustees last month:
Core Theme 1: Exemplary Teaching, Learning and Scholarship
Core Theme 2: Enriched Campus Community
Core Theme 3: Exceptional Stewardship
Core Theme 4: Engaged Local and Global Relationships
The Trustees approved these Core Themes with the understanding that drilling down into them would reflect who we really are at a deeper and more profound level. In other words, each of these core themes would explore how our humanist, Jesuit, Catholic values are reflected in regard to academics, communal life, resources, and various relationships.
Let me be clear about the importance of this effort. This is an essential task for us as an institution, and it will require, over the next four years, our cooperation, our dedicated commitment, our good will, and our best thinking. We live now in a time in which it is no longer sufficient to assume that we carry out our mission—we must demonstrate it through carefully-collected data and evidence; and we must make decisions based on the evidence we gather and show how those decisions improve our ability to carry out the mission we have ourselves defined. Reflective not only of the Commission’s desires, but of mine as well, we are now engaged in a continuous effort to be more efficient, more accountable and more transparent in all that we do. All of us play a role in this work, and all of us are essential to it. Please join me in thanking the members of our Accreditation Steering Committee for their generosity, and in playing an instrumental role in our efforts at making Gonzaga the best university it can be.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.