The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) recently appointed me to their Board of Commissioners. The NWCCU is one of seven regional commissions that oversee the accreditation process of higher education institutions “to assure quality and spur ongoing improvement”. It is a great honor, a new challenge, a wonderful opportunity for me to learn lots while helping improve our U.S. higher education system!
This peer review system, over 100 years old, defines and evaluates whether institutions meet high standards. The NWCCU has over 200 volunteer professors and administrators who carry out the institutional reviews and present their recommendations on each institution to the Board of Commissioners for review and approval.
The Northwest Commission oversees 162 colleges and universities in 7 western states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Utah, Nevada) and British Columbia. The Board of Commissioners currently has 19 members: seventeen educator Presidents/leaders and two representatives of the public (including me).
Regional accreditation bodies authorize funding by the Federal Student Financial Aid, and therefore must be reviewed and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
The accreditation process requires assessment of all member institutions (public, private, and for-profit) in these critical areas:
- Appropriateness of Mission and Strategic Plan
- Level of student achievement
- Quality of educational practices (including academic and student services, faculty and staff qualifications, and governance)
- Financial stability
For more information on the NWCCU, visit Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)