Wednesday, July 25, 2018

HSU Reaccredited, Urged to do More to Support Diverse Student Body

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 2:26 PM

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The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has reaffirmed Humboldt State University’s accreditation for another eight years, praising the university’s efforts to diversify its student body, while also recommending it do more to support students of color once they arrive on campus.

In a three-page letter notifying HSU of its re-accreditation, the association’s Senior Commission for Universities and Colleges offers HSU five commendations and six recommendations.

The association says HSU’s recruitment efforts, particularly in the Los Angeles area, are “an appropriate response to the increasing diversity in California” and praises the school’s work to make sure educational objectives are “widely recognized throughout the institution and consistent with stated priorities. Additionally, the letter praises HSU for having programs that give students hands-on learning experiences and foster close connections between students and faculty. The letter also touts HSU’s co-curricular programs, like the Klamath Connection, and its movement toward becoming a data-driven institution that makes evidence-based decisions

On the other side of the coin, the association recommends HSU “institute and sustain appropriate responses to the increased diversity of HSU’s students” and hire more staff and faculty members of color, echoing loud calls from students of color spread over the past year. The letter also calls on HSU to do more to “orient” incoming students from urban areas to HSU’s rural surroundings and to “intensify” efforts on student complaints and grievances to help them feel supported. University leadership’s “communication strategies” could also be improved, according to the letter, which also calls for HSU to implement a comprehensive assessment plan developed by faculty. Finally, the letter recommends that the university “engage in realistic budgeting, enrollment management and diversification of revenue sources,” a seeming nod to the university’s current fiscal challenges.

For more information, see the association's full letter here and the press release from HSU copied below.

HSU Earns 8-Year Accreditation

Humboldt State University’s accreditation has been reaffirmed for eight years by the WASC Senior Commission for Universities and Colleges (WSCUC), the organization responsible for certifying institutions in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific.

In its letter formalizing the action, WSCUC highlighted students’ strong commitment to the environment and social justice as well as the close connections between students and faculty mentors. The letter commended the University for a number of efforts and made a series of recommendations for enhancing student success.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher and Interim Vice Provost Rock Braithwaite, who serves as HSU’s accreditation liaison officer, shared the news in a message to campus.

“With this action, WSCUC recognizes the important opportunities that HSU provides students and the quality of an HSU education,” they wrote. “We can all be very proud of this reaffirmation, and we’re thankful for all the hard work on this process by countless individuals across campus.”

The letter from WSCUC commended HSU in five specific areas, including: recruitment efforts that reflect growing diversity in California, shared educational objectives, strength of academic programs, aligning co-curricular programs with academic goals, and institutional research capacity combined with use of the data.

WSCUC also made recommendations to further enhance student success, including: evaluating support services to ensure the needs of a diverse student body are being met, better informing prospective students of HSU’s rural context, expanding leadership’s communication strategies on campus, implementing a comprehensive university assessment program, increasing diversity of faculty and staff to reflect student demographics, and a clear focus on a sustainable budgeting process and enrollment management.

WSCUC is a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid. WSCUC encourages continuous improvement and assures constituencies, including the public, that accredited institutions are fulfilling their missions.

HSU’s letter from WSCUC completes a multi-year process that involved a review of data from across campus as well as evaluation of important University priorities. There were multiple visits to campus by WSCUC teams. Looking ahead, there will be a visit by a WSCUC team in 2021 to specifically address progress on budget, enrollment, diversification of revenue, and University-wide assessment. An offsite review for the next reaffirmation will be in Fall 2025 followed by an accreditation visit in Spring 2026.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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