In light of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities’, or NWCCU, accreditation concerns, the UA Board of Regents called an emergency meeting involving planning and decision-making to cancel the single UA accreditation and expedited program reviews on Oct. 7.
“This reset gives us the opportunity to really focus on our mission, on our students, and to making sure that we achieve our goals on behalf of the state,” UA President Jim Johnsen said in a video on Oct. 9.
After gaining clarity on the NWCCU’s letter, the Board of Regents set a plan to respond.
“The board, working with the chancellors, will respond this month to the commission, to the accreditor, clarifying for them how we’re thinking about our roles and responsibilities now and going forward,” Johnsen said in the video.
In addition, the board voted nine to two to no longer pursue a single, combined UA accreditation.gnm
“If the board chooses to actively consider single accreditation in the future, it will direct the president to conduct an independent, cost-benefit analysis and clearly examine accreditation issues, [such as division of authority and voices included in decision making],” Monique Musick, manager of communications and marketing of the Office of Public Affairs, said in a press release.
UA officials will not revisit the single accreditation model until UAF is accredited by the NWCCU in 2021, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said in a video on Oct. 8.
In the emergency meeting, the Board of Regents also voted nine to one to suspend the expedited academic program review until it consults with the UA president and chancellors. This included 13 review teams assigned to determine if programs needed to be streamlined or discontinued.
“With [the Oct. 7 meeting]’s motions, the regents signaled that they are willing to pause and review processes and policies and to incorporate and communicate inclusive decision-making processes in order to meet accreditation standards,” Musick said.
UA’s canceled expedited academic review programs are separate from the individual university program reviews.
“I do want to point out that we’re going forward with our own, internal UAA expedited program review, but that’s our own process that we’re controlling ourselves,” Sandeen said in the video.
Each UA university will likely complete its program reviews in February, Johnsen said.
On top of these changes, Johnsen plans to involve more voices in decision making, as requested by the NWCCU.
“No one person, including me, has all the answers,” Johnsen said. “Looking forward, I commit to be more inclusive, to plan, to consider alternative points of view and to include as many of those as possible into our way forward.”
The Board of Regents will meet during the last week of October to further discuss UA’s response to the NWCCU and the future of UA.