California Lutheran University was reaffirmed in its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges after the organization’s visit to campus in July.
Faculty and staff alike also took pride in knowing that WASC reaccredited CLU for 10 years, the maximum number of years allotted under federal law; even better than the previous accreditation of seven years.
“There are two reasons why receiving an accreditation from WASC is important,” Chris Kimball, President of California Lutheran University said. “One, to get accredited is a statement that you’re doing a good job and that’s the most important thing,” Kimball said. “Second, in the US system, if a college or university wants access to any kind of federal money, you have to be regionally accredited.”
According to Kimball, federal funding is essential to the success of an educational institution. Funds for student research, access to federal loans, and federal financial aid are all things students benefit from.
“For us to be accredited for the maximum number of years, 10 years, I think is a really positive statement on how we’re doing for our students,” Kimball said. “They did identify a couple of areas we need to work on however, mainly diversity of faculty on campus.”
Despite the glowing review from WASC, the program did raise a diversity issue on campus, directed mostly at CLU’s faculty. The recommendation from the organization stated that “California Lutheran must operationalize the 2007 WSCUC recommendations to diversify the faculty, staff, students and board by creating policies and processes that meet measurable expectations.”
Juanita Hall, the Senior Director of Multicultural and International Student Services, reflected upon the work that needs to be done regarding diversity on campus.
“We’ve done a really good job on diversifying our students but where we have been lacking is in our faculty,” Hall said. “I think it’s very important to work strategically and be intentional about diversifying our faculty.”
When asked if Cal Lutheran can specifically improve on this issue, Hall stressed the importance of overcoming the implicit bias of who would be comfortable and who wouldn’t be in a work place.
According to College Factual, roughly 54% of students on campus are white, followed by 23% Hispanic, and the last 30% is assorted amongst Asian, African American and Native American students. However when looking at CLU’s faculty, an astounding 72% is white.
One major factor in the process of diversifying the faculty on campus stems from the ideal that a school faculty should accurately reflect the many backgrounds of the students.
“It would be really great to see more faculty members on campus that better relate to my background and I’m sure a lot of other students in different ethnic groups would agree,” senior Patrick Jimenez said. “You can relate to them on a different level because you know that they probably lived very similar experiences as your own and that is the best part.”
Besides this important issue, WASC had many positive points to make about CLU ranging from “a strong culture and identity that is recognized by constituents across the university”, “a focus on student success, exhibited by faculty and staff at all levels”, and “an engaged and supportive Board.”
WASC is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States, serving California, Hawaii, Asian, Guam, the Pacific Region, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. This organization is primarily a school improvement board that strives for excellence in quality higher education.
The process of WASC and its duties are carried out during its initial visit to the campus under review. At least two representatives from the organization spend one to two days reviewing various aspects of school life ranging from academia to student life.
Cal Lutheran will send a written report to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to update them on their progress regarding their recommendations in a few years time and a smaller team from WASC will conduct a brief checkup about five years into the accreditation.
Published September 16th, 2015