The University of the South Pacific (USP) hosted the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV 1) at Laucala Campus from 11 to 13 April.
The WSCUC Review Team consisted of the WSCUC Vice-President and Staff Liaison, Dr Maureen Maloney and six peer evaluators, namely Dr Dianne Harrison, President, California State University – Northridge, (Team Chair); Dr Laurie Dodge, Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Assessment and Planning; Vice-Provost, Brandman University (Team Assistant Chair); Dr Stephanie Juillerat, Associate Provost, Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Azusa Pacific University; Dr J Aaron Christopher, Vice-Chancellor for Administration, Palmer College; Mr John Stanley, Director of Institutional Research, University of Hawaii – West Oahu; and Dr Leah Williams, General Counsel, West Ed. As part of the off-site campus review, Dr Leah Williams visited the USP Emalus Campus from 8 to 10 April.
The Review Team met with various members of the USP community at Laucala and Emalus Campuses, including Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council, Council Members, Members of the Senior Management Team (SMT), Associate Deans, Heads of Schools, Heads and Directors of Sections and Campuses, Assessment Consultant, Academic, Professional, and Intermediate & Junior Staff, Students, Representatives from USP Students Association (USPSA) and Members of the Emalus Campus Advisory Committee and Programme Advisory Committee. WSCUC also established a confidential email account via which staff, students and alumni were invited to make submissions.
WSCUC protocol is that the Chair of the WSCUC Accreditation Team presents an informal report at an ‘Exit Meeting’ before the Team leaves the institution. The Team Chair first explained the decision making protocol, viz., that the Team does not at the Exit Meeting communicate their recommendations to the Commission, they only present a summary of their findings, and that there is no discussion of the findings.
The Review Team will send the University a draft of their report, for correction of errors of fact and redaction of propriety information by 11 May 2018. The final report is subsequently sent to the WSCUC Commission, and the Commission meets on 28 June 2018 to consider the report.
There are three potential outcomes of the SAV1 evaluation. The Review Team may conclude: the University is not compliant with the four (4) Standards and 39 Criteria For Review (CFR); the University demonstrated Minimal Compliance with the four (4) Standards and 39 CFR; and, the University demonstrated Substantial Compliance with the four (4) Standards and 39 CFR. If the University fails to demonstrate Minimal Compliance, it is subject to further SAVs, but even then only if the Review Team felt there is potential to achieve compliance by the end of the five-year eligibility period. If the University demonstrates Minimal Compliance, it is granted Candidacy. If the University demonstrates Substantial Compliance, it is awarded Initial Accreditation. WSCUC do not award full accreditation; the highest achievement is Initial Accreditation, and this represents the best possible outcome under WSCUC protocols.
The University SMT attended the Exit Meeting with the WSCUC SAV1 Review Team. The Chair of the WSCUC Accreditation Review Team, Dr Harrison reported that the Team concluded that USP is in compliance with each of the four (4) Standards of Accreditation that WSCUC employ in their evaluation of the University, at the level sufficient for Initial Accreditation. The formal decision with regard to the University’s accreditation application will be made by the WSCUC Commission on 28 June 2018, and the Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, and Deputy Vice Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services (DVC LTSS) and USP WSCUC Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), Professor Richard Coll will attend the Commission meeting in the USA. The final decision shall be communicated to the University by 13 July 2018.
The Team shared eight (8) Commendations for the University, where the team felt the University demonstrated particular achievements. The Team also made seven (7) recommendations, that the University is committed to addressing. The commendations and recommendations will be formally reported to the University following the above dates, and may not be communicated beforehand.
The USP WSCUC team, led by DVC LTSS, Professor Coll thanks the members of the USP community for its cooperation and support in hosting a successful SAV1.