The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed.
NWCCU has just revised the accreditation process which will now occur on a seven year cycle. Going forward, the cycle will include reports and visits scheduled over seven years. However, Southwestern will be among several institutions which will have a compressed schedule of reports and visits over the next two years, finalizing in March of 2012.
The revised accreditation standards are five principle-based statements of expectations of quality and effectiveness for institutions accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities:
Standard One ( Mission, Core Themes*, and Expectations ) examines institutional purpose and intentions. It requires a clear statement of institutional mission, articulation of mission fulfillment, and identification of core themes within that mission. It also requires a delineation of core theme objectives, each with assessable indicators of achievement and rationale for the selection of those indicators.
Standard Two ( Resources and Capacity ) assesses institutional inputs. It requires an evaluation of major institutional functions, resources, and infrastructure to enable a determination of the institution's potential to succeed in fulfilling its mission.
Standard Three ( Planning and Implementation ) evaluates planning for the institution as a whole as well as planning to achieve the objectives of its core themes.
Standard Four ( Effectiveness and Improvement ) evaluates the results of the institution's efforts. It assesses achievement of core theme objectives and achievement of goals or outcomes of programs and services. It also evaluates the institution's use of assessment results for improvement.
Standard Five ( Mission Fulfillment, Adaptation, and Sustainability) evaluates fulfillment of institutional mission in light of the institution's own expectations (see Standard One). It assesses the institution's capacity to monitor its environment and its ability to forecast and adapt to patterns, trends, and circumstances with the potential to influence institutional viability and sustainability.
Click for the Commission's complete Revised Accreditation Standards.