Accreditation Overview

Every decade, UC Santa Cruz undergoes accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  At the time of the last WASC review in 1994, the Commission made recommendations in several key areas, including Undergraduate and Graduate Education, Research/Creative Activity, and Diversity.  Since then the campus has dealt with many of the previously-identified issues.  In the area of Undergraduate Education, the newly appointed Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education has focused on improving advising, devoting significant new resources to improvements such as additional staff advisors and support for faculty involvement.  In 2000-01, the faculty unanimously approved a policy to institute a traditional letter grading system in addition to continuing Narrative Evaluations.  A full-time Dean of Graduate Education was also appointed, providing the "forceful advocacy" and increased coherence urged by the last WASC review team, and a graduate center has been built near the campus core.  This new review period will be one in which much greater attention and resources will be devoted to graduate issues.

Indeed, much has changed since our last review, including the process and standards by which WASC assesses colleges and universities.  The new 2001 WASC self-study process is designed to engage campuses in meaningful self-reflection and self-assessment.  It is intended to help us establish our own objectives and assess progress in achieving them, rather than to test our compliance on a standardized, externally generated set of criteria, as under the old accreditation process.

AS UC Santa Cruz begins a new WASC review cycle, the campus is embarking on a period of unprecedented growth.  Such growth will provide the campus with the opportunity to expand its graduate programs--a goal of the campus that was iterated in the campus' last long range development plan (1988), but not realized because of the economic downturns during the 1990s.  This period of ensuing growth presents the campus with exciting opportunities to develop and mature as an institution but, because of the cyclical nature of the California economy, UC Santa Cruz also faces significant challenges.  As the campus grows, particularly in the proportion of graduate enrollments, UC Santa Cruz is committed to maintaining excellence in undergraduate education.  Maintaining the quality of our undergraduate programs, while simultaneously expanding our graduate education mission will be challenging.

Given the current context, UCSC will focus the educational effectiveness component of the WASC self-study on (i) growth and improvement of graduate programs, and (ii) enhancement of undergraduate academic engagement.  Both of these topics will focus on students' educational goals.  Revisions to the departmental review procedure will provide a key mechanism for this enhanced capacity.  Therefore our third topic, which will be part of the preparatory review, will be (iii) improving program review procedures.

This web site makes available all of the key documents and data sources related to our accreditation effort to encourage the broadest possible participation in and dissemination of the results of our collective efforts. We invite you to explore this website and to give us your feedback!