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Reaffirmation of WSCUC Accreditation


In July 2018, UC Merced's accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC, formerly WASC) was reaffirmed for a period of ten years. The maximum term possible.

This decision by the WSCUC Commission followed three years of preparation and review that began in February 2015 with the first meeting of the Steering Committee coordinating the review.

Subsequent major steps included

The Commission Action Letter, which formally conveys the campus's accreditation status, also outlines the Commission's

  • Nine commendations to the campus.
  • Five recommendations to be addressed by the next reaffirmation review.
  • Requirements for an interim report to be submitted to the WSCUC on November 1, 2021.

Descriptions of the process, timeline, and main elements of the reaffirmation review are provided below. A detailed description of the Institutional Review Process for re-affirmation is available on pp. 25-37 of the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation Revised.

Process & Timeline

This table outlines the major steps of Institutional Review Process for re-affirmation of accreditation. Hyperlinks within the table take you to brief descriptions of each stage further down the page. 

UC Merced hosts Barbara Gross Davis, UC Merced's WSCUC staff liaison, to provide an overview of the IRP Mar 12, 2015
Campus completes a draft of the WSCUC Review under the Standards May 2015
Steering Committee Chair, Nate Monroe, updates campus on re-affirmation progress Spring 2016

Campus completes outline of Institutional Report

Spring 2016
Campus submits Institutional Report (self-study) to WSCUC (50 -75 page document) July 25, 2017
UC Merced Offsite Review conducted Oct 3, 2017
UC Merced Accreditation Visit conducted Feb 27 - Mar 1, 2018
WSCUC Commission re-affirms accreditation June 2018

WSCUC Review under the Standards

A required document, this worksheet facilitates a preliminary, systematic institutional self-analysis under the WSCUC Standards of Accreditation for the purposes of

  1. identifying strengths and areas of good practice,
  2. identifying areas that may need attention,
  3. helping to focus the review.

The completed worksheet is submitted as evidence for Component 2 of the Institutional Report (p. 1, also see below). 

The submission of this worksheet with the institution’s self-study helps to validate that the institution has been reviewed under all Standards for Accreditation and relevant Criteria for Review.

At UC Merced, this analysis was facilitated by the Steering Committee during spring 2015. The resulting document is available here.  A summary of the major conclusions is available on the final pages of this document, which was shared with the campus community over the course of the spring 2016 semester by Nate Monroe, the chair of the WSCUC Steering Committee.

Institutional Report

The Institutional Report is a 50-75 page document addressing the eight components outlined in the table below. UC Merced's report was submitted to WSCUC on July 25, 2017.  A detailed description of each component is provided in this excerpt from the Handbook on the page(s) noted in the table below.

Report Component (Essays) PDF Page Number
Introduction - Institutional context and response to previous Commission actions 1
Compliance with WASC Standards and Federal Regulations - Self-review under the Standards, the Compliance Checklist, and Inventory of Educational Effectiveness Indicators 1-2
Degree Programs - The meaning, quality and integrity of undergraduate and graduate degrees.  2-3
Educational Quality - Student learning, the Core Competencies, and Standards of Performance at Graduation 3-4
Student Success - Student learning, retention, and graduation 4-5
Quality Assurance and Improvement - Program review, assessment, and the use of data and evidence  5
Sustainability - Financial viability and preparing for the changing higher education environment 6
Conclusion - Reflection and plans for improvement 7

Offsite Review

This one-day event takes place on October 3, 2017. During the Offsite Review, the external review team convenes to discuss the institution and its compliance with the Standards of Accreditation as described in the Institutional Report and supporting evidence.

The Offsite Review culminates in

  • a 45 minute conference call between key institutional representatives and the external review team.
  • the development of a summary document ("Lines of Inquiry") by the external review team.

The Lines of Inquiry document, which was sent to the campus on October 9, 2017, outlines the team's perceptions of the institution's strengths and the lines of inquiry that will guide the Accreditation Visit.  The Lines of Inquiry document also includes a request for additional information. The campus's response to this request is available here.

Additional information about the Offsite Review is available here

Accreditation Visit

UC Merced's Accreditation Visit takes place February 27 to March 1, 2018. 

During the visit, the external review team meets with campus representatives to

  • follow-up on the lines of inquiry that emerged from the Offsite Review.
  • verify or revise its preliminary findings regarding compliance with the Standards of Accreditation and improvement. 

The visit provides the institution with the opportunity to demonstrate how it has responded to issues raised or questions that emerged from the Offsite Review, and to fill gaps in the team's understanding of the campus. 

The visit results in a team report describing

  • the team's understanding and analysis of the institution,
  • its commendations, and
  • its recommendations going forward. 

The institution receives a preliminary draft of this report for the purposes of fact checking only. The finalized report is provided to the Commission as part of the package of information (including the Institutional Report, etc.) used to determine the re-affirmation period as well as other required follow-up with the institution. 

Commission Decision

In June 2018, the Commission will re-affirm accreditation for a period of six, eight or ten years, following the criteria outlined in the Decision Framework for Periods of Accreditation.  

To receive ten years, the institution must be found to be in substantial compliance with WSCUC Standards and to have no consequential issues (emphasis added) that affect the institution's ability to carry out its mission at a high level of quality.