Institutional Accreditation

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) since 1974.  This accreditation applies to all UAA campuses, including Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula College, Kodiak College, Matanuska-Susitna College, and Prince William Sound College, as well as their extended sites.

NWCCU, one of six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, evaluates and accredits higher education institutions in the U.S. states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, as well as the Canadian province British Columbia.  NWCCU holds institutions accountable to a rigorous set of standards and eligibility requirements, with a focus on educational quality and institutional effectiveness, particularly as they relate to student learning and student achievement.  NWCCU recently revised its Standards and Eligibility Requirements, implemented in January 2020.

LAST REVIEW

UAA’s last comprehensive review culminated in January 2019, when the NWCCU Board of Commissioners reaffirmed UAA's accreditation for seven years, the maximum period granted by NWCCU.  UAA was recognized with four commendations, and received two recommendations which were fulfilled through an ad hoc report in 2020.

Commendations

The Commission commended UAA for:

  1. An inclusive process for UAA 2020, which brought the campuses together in an unprecedented joint effort focused on Student Success.
  2. Its culture of diversity and inclusivity, especially in relationship to Alaska Native communities.
  3. Its commitment to community engagement and the Public Square.
  4. Its extensive assessment efforts related to student learning. Faculty exhibit robust ownership and leadership in assessing academic programs, and also engage proactively in the multifaceted assessment of General Education. 

Recommendations

The Commission recommended that UAA:

  1. Expand efforts around institutional planning of graduate programs to demonstrate their academic quality and role in mission fulfillment (Standard 2.C.12).
  2. Continue the focus on collaborative Student Success efforts to raise low graduation and retention rates and support Mission Fulfillment (Standard 5.B.1). 

All Recommendations Fulfilled with Ad Hoc Report

An Ad Hoc Report on two recommendations was submitted March 1, 2020. The NWCCU Board of Commissioners reviewed and took action on the report at their June 2020 meeting. On July 22, 2020 NWCCU President Ramaswamy informed Chancellor Sandeen that both recommendations have been fulfilled. UAA enters its new cycle with four commendations and no recommendations!

CURRENT CYCLE

UAA is beginning its next seven-year cycle and will be following NWCCU's new Eligibility Requirements and Standards.  The new cycle includes the following milestones:      

Fall 2021              Mid-Cycle Evaluation (Year Three, Report and Visit)
Fall 2024              Policies, Regulations, and Financial Review (PRFR – Year Six, Report and Review)
Fall 2025              Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness (EIE – Year Seven, Report and Visit)

Building Up and Moving Forward

Using the results of the comprehensive review and site visit, UAA is building capacity to fulfill its distinctive mission as an open access, metropolitan, multi-campus institution serving diverse populations of students.

UAA continues to build on the strengths noted by NWCCU in four commendations.  These are UAA’s inclusive planning processes, a culture of diversity and inclusivity, engagement with UAA’s communities, and extensive efforts related to the assessment and improvement of student learning.

The new NWCCU Standards and Eligibility Requirements, with their focus on student learning, student success, and equity, reinforce UAA’s efforts in these areas.

Moving into the next accreditation cycle, UAA must consider:

  • How does UAA continue to build forward in our areas of strength?
  • How does UAA position itself to respond to the changing educational needs of its students, communities, region, and state?
  • How does UAA identify mission fulfillment relative to the above?

STRUCTURE

An Accreditation Advisory Committee, charged in January 2020, will support university-wide engagement with accreditation, particularly around mission fulfillment, student learning, and student achievement.  The committee draws its membership from across the institution, governance groups, and campuses.  Members have been selected for their experience, expertise and areas represented; demonstrated commitment to institutional-level thinking; ability to contribute to a variety of tasks; and willingness to work collaboratively.  The Committee is chaired by two faculty members, Dr. Terry Kelly of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Carrie King of the College of Health, and by Dr. Susan Kalina, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.  The accreditation effort is supported by the Office of Academic Affairs, Office of Institutional Research, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. 

Accreditation Advisory Committee

Tri-Chairs

Susan Kalina, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor, Languages
Carrie King, Professor, Dietetics and Nutrition
Terrence Kelly, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Members

Jennifer Brock, Associate Dean, College of Engineering and Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Whitney Brown, Director, Career Services
Ryan Buchholdt, Interim Director, Budget Office
Jennifer Booz, Chief Diversity Officer
Mary Jo Finney, Dean, Graduate School
Larry Foster, Professor Emeritus, Mathematics
Rachel Graham, Chair, Faculty Senate Academic Assessment Committee and Associate Professor, Mathematics
Erin Hicks, Associate Professor, Astronomy
Ryan Hill, Director, Residence Life
Erin Holmes, Associate Vice Provost, Institutional Research
Jacelyn Keys, Campus Director, Kodiak College
Dan Kline, Director, General Education and Professor, English
Claudia Lampman, Vice Provost for Student Success and Professor, Psychology
John Moore, Research Laboratory Manager, CAS and Past Co-President, Staff Council
Kirstin Olmstead, Director of Public Relations, University Advancement
Paul Ongtooguk, Director, Alaska Native Studies
Steve Rollins, Dean, Consortium Library
Benjamin Shier, Interim Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services
Cheryl Siemers, Assistant Director, Kenai Peninsula College and Professor, English
Jennifer Stone, Professor, English
Monica Kane, Interim Director, Business Services (2020)
Denise Runge, Provost (formerly Dean, Community and Technical College) (2020)

 

 Working Groups

Core Competencies

Carrie King, Professor, Dietetics and Nutrition, Co-Lead
Terrence Kelly, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Co-Lead
Jennifer Brock, Associate Dean, College of Engineering and Professor, Mechanical Engineering 
Larry Foster, Professor Emeritus, Mathematics
Rachel Graham, Chair, Faculty Senate Academic Assessment Committee and Associate Professor, Mathematics
Ryan Hill, Director, Residence Life
Erin Holmes, Associate Vice Provost, Institutional Research
Dan Kline, Director, General Education and Professor, English
John Moore, Research Laboratory Manager, CAS and Past Co-President, Staff Council
Kristen Ogilvie, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Paul Ongtooguk, Director, Alaska Native Studies
Cheryl Siemers, Assistant Director, Kenai Peninsula College and Professor, English


Student Achievement Metrics

Claudia Lampman, Vice Provost for Student Success and Professor, Psychology, Lead
Whitney Brown, Director, Career Services
Amber Christensen Fullmer, Director, Native Student Services
Erin Hicks, Associate Professor, Astronomy
Erin Holmes, Associate Vice Provost, Institutional Research
Michael Ulroan, Regional Director, ANSEP
Andre Thorn, Director, Multicultural Center (2020)

  

DELIBERATIVE, TRANSPARENT PROCESS

The institutional accreditation process at UAA is a deliberative, transparent process that works with relevant stakeholders to promote a culture of assessment and continuous improvement.  Accreditation at UAA is not a “check the box” compliance process, but a genuine opportunity for institutional self-reflection and improvement.  Such a process aims to connect with the institutional culture and help better coordinate a variety of planning and review processes on campus.

Working with stakeholders, a small set of institutional core learning competencies are being identified in Spring 2020.  At the same time, metrics for student success and disaggregation of student success data are being developed.  With standards for student learning and student success in place, UAA will implement mission fulfillment assessment aimed at continuous improvement of student learning and student success.  These efforts will be the heart of the Mid-Cycle Evaluation Year Three Report submitted in Summer 2021. Based on feedback from the mid-cycle site visit from NWCCU and their evaluation of the Mid-Cycle report, student learning and success assessment, as well as institutional interventions to improve learning and success will be refined.  These continuing efforts will be assessed in UAA’s comprehensive self-study process (Fall 2023/Spring 2024), and described in the Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Report, which will be drafted in Summer 2024, shared out for feedback over the academic year, and submitted in Summer 2025.  That report, and the NWCCU’s site visit in Fall 2025, will form the basis of NWCCU’s assessment of UAA’s worthiness for accreditation.

Below describes some milestones along the way.

November 13, 2020        Open Forum on Core Competencies

9:00-11:00 via Zoom. November 13, 2020 Forum Link to Register

October 16, 2020           Open Forum on Core Competencies: "Personal, Professional, and Community Responsibility:
                                        What is it? Where do we promote it? How do we help students develop it?"

82 Participants. October 16, 2020 Program. | Personal, Professional, and Community Responsibility Photo Submission Form for November Forum.

September 18, 2020      Annual Academic Assessment Seminar/Core Competency Kick Off: "Equity Through Transparency in Learning
                                         and Teaching (TILT)"

Keynote Speaker: Suzanne Tapp, co-editor, "Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership: A Guide to Implementing the Transparency Framework Institution-wide to Improve Learning and Retention" (Access Dr. Tapp's book through UAA's Consortium Library)

111 participants. September Forum Program. Keynote Post-Seminar FAQ. TILT Checklist for Transparent Assignments. Transparent Assignment Template.

May 7, 2020                   Annual Academic Assessment Retreat

83 participants. May 7, 2020 Program. May 7, 2020 Summary.

May 2020                        Endorsement of the Core Competencies

The tri-chairs presented a status update to the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and USUAA student government, including a written Accreditation 2025 Summary for Academic Year 2020. Faculty Senate Endorsement. Staff Council Endorsement.

April 2020                       Core Competency Final Naming Survey

184 responses, distributed to the UAA Community. Core Competency Final Naming Survey Results.

April 3, 2020                   Open Forum: Naming Our Core Competencies

52 participants. April 3, 2020 Handout. April 3, 2020 Forum PowerPoint with Feedback Summary. 

March 2020                    Core Competency Naming Survey

226 responses, distributed to stakeholder groups and core competency forum participants. Core Competencies Naming Survey Results.

February 7, 2020            Open Forum: Dialing In the Core Competencies

62 participants. February 7, 2020 Program. February 7, 2020 PowerPoint.

January 2020                  Accreditation Advisory Committee

The Accreditation Advisory Committee was established and held its first meeting.  The major tasks for the spring were to finalize the Core Competencies and the student achievement metrics.

December 2019             Status Update

The tri-chairs presented a status update to the Chancellor’s Cabinet and Academic Deans, as well as a written update to the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and USUAA student government.  The update includes the final list of 31 candidates for UAA’s Core Competencies.

Fall 2019                         Stakeholder Outreach

Over the fall semester, the tri-chairs engaged stakeholders from across the university to lay the foundation for selecting a set of core competencies.  They met with the following groups: Academic Assessment Committee, Administrative Services Senior Executive Team, Advancement Leadership, Alumni Association Board, General Education Advisory Committee, Graduate Academic Board, Staff Council, Student Affairs Leadership Team, Undergraduate Academic Board, and USUAA (student government). Members of these groups also responded to the Taking a Pulse Survey, which was distributed to participants of the October and November forums below.

November 15, 2019       Open Forum: Honoring Your Work and Building Forward

55 participants. November 15, 2019 Program. November 15, 2019 PowerPoint. Follow-up survey distributed to forum participants, 25 responses. Taking a Pulse on Where We Are Now Survey Results (November Forum Participants).

October 4, 2019              Annual Academic Assessment Seminar and Accreditation Kick Off

Broad engagement with the new cycle began with a kick off on October 4, 2019.  Over 100 faculty, staff and students joined Dr. Natasha Jankowski, Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) to explore what moving from Core Themes to Core Competencies means for an institution. 

106 participants. Kick-Off Program. Kick-Off Welcome PowerPoint. Kick-Off Keynote PowerPoint. Follow-up survey distributed to forum participants, 64 responses. Taking a Pulse on Where We Are Now Survey Results (Kick-Off Participants).

Summer 2019                 Accreditation Metrics Team

An Accreditation Metrics Team drafted a set of student achievement metrics, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic class, first generation, part time, and transfer. The team also proposed leading indicators for improved retention, persistence, and graduation rates.

PRELIMINARY TIMELINE

Date Activity
YEAR ONE  
Fall 2018 Site Visit
Spring 2019 Reaffirmation
Summer 2019

Draft - Student Achievement Metrics and Disaggregation

Initiate - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Propose - NWCCU Student Retention, Persistence and Success Academy Project

YEAR TWO  
September 2019

Draft - Student Achievement Metrics and Disaggregation

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

October 2019

Accreditation Kick Off (Oct. 4)

Conduct - Core Competency Stakeholder Outreach

Conduct - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

November 2019

Open Forum: Honoring Your Work and Building Forward (Nov. 15)

Conduct - Core Competency Stakeholder Outreach

Conduct - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

Attend - NWCCU Student Retention, Persistence and Success Academy Meeting (Seattle)

Attend - NWCCU Accreditation Liaison Training & Evaluator Team Chair Training (Seattle)

Attend - NWCCU Annual Meeting (Seattle)

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

December 2019

Core Competencies Compilation to Cabinet, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, USUAA

Formalize - Accreditation Advisory Committee

Conduct - Core Competency Stakeholder Outreach

Conduct - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

January 2020

Re-Conceptualize - Core Competency List (Accreditation Advisory Committee)

Conduct - Core Competency Stakeholder Outreach

Conduct - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

February 2020

Edit - Core Competency list to incorporate relevant information from the Fellows Project

Reduce - Core Competencies to 9 – Open Forum

Conduct - Core Competency Stakeholder Outreach

Conduct - NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows Project: Community/Employer Interviews

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

March 2020

Reduce - Core Competencies to 3 - Mechanism TBA

Conduct - NWCCU Student Success Academy Project: Tier 1 Writing & Math

Submit - Ad Hoc Report on Recommendations 1 & 2 from the previous cycle

Provide - Regular Governance Updates

April 2020

Submit - Draft Core Competency List to Cabinet, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, USUAA, UAA Community

Conduct - Feedback Period

May 2020

Review - Draft Core Competency List (Cabinet, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, USUAA, UAA Community)

Decide - Cabinet Approves Final Core Competencies

Summer 2020

Develop - Plan for Piloting the Personal, Professional, and Community Responsibility Core Competency

Develop - Plan to Assess Programs and Services that Support Student Learning and the Closing of Equity Gaps

Develop - Targets for Student Achievement and Leading Indicators

Develop - Process for Identifying First-Year and Gateway Courses

Develop - Mission Fulfillment Data Site (Student Learning, Student Achievement)

Develop - Mission Fulfillment Communication Plan

YEAR THREE  
Fall 2020

Implement - Plan for Piloting the Personal, Professional, and Community Responsibility Core Competency

Continue to Develop - Plan to Assess Programs and Services that Support Student Learning and the Closing of Equity Gaps

Continue to Develop - Targets for Student Achievement and Leading Indicators

Continue to Develop - Process for Identifying First-Year and Gateway Courses

Continue to Develop - Mission Fulfillment Data Site (Student Learning, Student Achievement)

Continue to Develop - Mission Fulfillment Communication Plan

Spring 2021

Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Draft - Mid-Cycle Evaluation Year Three Report

Summer 2021

Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Submit - Mid-Cycle Evaluation Year Three Report

YEAR FOUR  
Fall 2021

Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Host - Mid-Cycle Evaluation Site Visit

Spring 2022 Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement
Summer 2022 Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement
YEAR FIVE  
Fall 2022 Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement
Spring 2023 Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement
Summer 2023 Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement
YEAR SIX  
Fall 2023

Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Conduct - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Self Study

Spring 2024

Implement - Mission Fulfillment Assessment and Continuous Improvement

Conduct - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Self Study

Draft - Policies, Regulations, Financial Review Report

Summer 2024

Submit - Policies, Regulations, Financial Review Report

Draft - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Report

YEAR SEVEN  
Fall 2024 Draft - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Report
Spring 2025 Draft - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Report
Summer 2025 Submit - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Report
YEAR ONE  
Fall 2025 Host - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness Site Visit

REPORTS 

Ad Hoc Report to Address Recommendations 1 and 2 from NWCCU Fall 2018 Year Seven Evaluation Report - March 1, 2020

Past Reports: While demonstrating continuity with past reports, the current cycle of reports should not be restricted by them, in order to reflect institutional changes and to incorporate guidance from NWCCU.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Chancellor

  • Set the agenda and direction and promote a culture that prioritizes student learning and student success
  • Facilitate high-level oversight by the Cabinet and ensure accreditation is an institutional priority
  • Connect accreditation to institutional planning and budget allocation
  • Inform and update the Board of Regents and UA Statewide System
  • Engage the broader internal and external communities
  • Approve all final reports and submissions
  • Communicate with NWCCU
  • Meet with site visit teams

Chancellor’s Cabinet, Deans, Campus Directors

  • Implement the agenda and direction within their units
  • Ensure accreditation is a priority and promote a culture that prioritizes student learning and student success
  • Oversee assessment and improvement of the functions in their areas
  • Connect continuous improvement to student learning and success
  • Connect accreditation to planning and budget allocation
  • Promote alignment of accreditation, strategic planning, budget planning and other key planning processes
  • Engage faculty, staff and students in their units
  • Engage their communities, including advisory councils and boards
  • Contribute to and review reports and submissions
  • Meet with site visit teams

Accreditation Advisory Committee

  • Design and facilitate the processes by which the institution engages in accreditation
  • Develop a communication plan
  • Provide guidance in the selection and presentation of data and in developing a long-term approach to ensuring these data are embedded in decision making processes
  • Serve in an advisory role for developing reports and preparing for site visits
  • Provide regular updates to the Chancellor, campus leadership, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders
  • Meet with site visit teams

Office of Academic Affairs

  • Coordinate the accreditation process and co-chair the Accreditation Advisory Committee
  • Communicate with the NWCCU throughout the process
  • Support the Accreditation Advisory Committee and the Tri-Chairs
  • Oversee and ensure compliance, including federal mandates
  • Coordinate reporting, including annual, mid-cycle, and comprehensive
  • Gather documentation to support the compliance Standards

Office of Institutional Research

  • Provide data as needed
  • Design data visualization for mission fulfillment, institutional effectiveness, student learning, and student achievement data in consultation with the Accreditation Advisory Committee, Academic Affairs, and Cabinet
  • Assist in developing a structure of data presentation for mission fulfillment that will be consistent throughout the cycle
  • Build and maintain accreditation-related sections of the SharePoint site (Core Competencies, Student Achievement, Mission Fulfillment, Program Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, Program Review, Student Complaints)
  • Build the structure for the electronic evidence room

Office of Institutional Effectiveness

  • Contribute to developing and writing reports, including annual updates to the campus and community
  • Format final report and appendices

Campus Community (Faculty, Staff, Students, Administrators)

  • Apply student learning and student success insights into the learning experience
  • Use student learning and achievement data in continuous improvement, decision making, and resource allocation
  • Contribute to the institution’s approach to student learning and success
  • Participate in opportunities, including surveys and open forums, and provide input, information, and feedback
  • Review report drafts
  • Prepare for the campus visits
  • Participate in the campus visit sessions for faculty, staff, and students