WASC Team Highlights University’s Successes, Areas of Improvement

Cal Poly Pomona produces excellent graduates through its well-regarded academic programs, according to the initial findings of the WASC Visiting Team during their three-day visit.

The six-person team, composed of administrators and professors from peer universities, said the university is on the right track and pointed out some improvement areas to focus on. “The learn-by-doing philosophy at Cal Poly Pomona is clearly working beautifully,” said Visiting Team Chair Howard Cohen at the exit review briefing on Oct. 10.

Cohen, who serves as chancellor of Purdue University Calumet in Indiana, said that Cal Poly Pomona successfully follows its mission and values, integrating the learn-by-doing philosophy throughout the academic curriculum. Through their interaction with students, Cohen said the team found them engaged and interested in their education. Student Affairs was singled out for its successful development of a culture of assessment.

WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) is the accrediting commission for colleges and universities in California, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Basin, assuring their quality of education. During the visit at Cal Poly Pomona from Oct. 8-10, the Capacity and Preparatory Review Visiting Team evaluated whether the university operates with clear purposes, high levels of institutional integrity, fiscal responsibility and organizational structures to fulfill its purposes. They met with campus constituents, including administrators, college deans, members of the Academic Senate, faculty, staff, students and community members.

The visiting team will submit a report of their findings to the university and the WASC Commission in November. An official report will issued from WASC in February 2009. Another WASC Visiting Team will conduct an Educational Effectiveness Review in October 2010, evaluating whether the university has clear and appropriate educational objectives and whether its academic programs merit the degrees offered.

At the exit briefing, Cohen urged Cal Poly Pomona to not delay in preparing for the 2010 visit and the associated report, which is due four months in advance. The team reviewed the campus' progress on concerns raised during the previous review. The university was commended on the new vision and identity statement developed last year, but the team identified four areas needing improvement: shared governance, formal strategic planning process, academic master plan and general education assessment.

President Michael Ortiz said the team's findings were a mixed review. “I think we're doing some wonderful things here. A lot of the things that were brought up are things that we're already addressing.”

Some of the improvement areas, such as general education assessment, are issues the university is currently working on, Ortiz said. Also, the arrival of Provost Marten denBoer will facilitate the academic planning process, which will be the centerpiece of the university's strategic plan.

For more information about the WASC accreditation process, visit www.cpp.edu/~wasc/index.shtml.