Accreditation: A Value Proposition
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
Sonny Ramaswamy, NWCCU President

Likely there’s no one who has not uttered the phrase, “ time flies when you’re having fun.” Webster’s Dictionary states that the term “ time flies” originated during the late 18 th Century and is derived from the Latin “ tempus fugit”.

Some studies suggest elation generated by the active pursuit of a goal gives us the perception of time passing quickly. I am certain my colleagues—staff and commissioners—will vouch that this past year has whizzed by, as we have pursued a number of goals.

A few days ago, during a conversation with friends, I reflected that it feels like I have been part of NWCCU for years, considering the multiple things we have focused on and accomplished, some of which I want to share here as a “state of the commission” stock-taking. 

The passion and can-do attitude of NWCCU’s staff and commissioners has been critical for the phenomenal progress we have made during the last almost year. And, what is being done now will set the Commission on the path of supporting excellence in education, single-mindedly focused on student success for years to come at our family of institutions.

Observations of the Board Chair
Joseph Brimhall, President and CEO
NWCCU Board Chair
University of Western States
Dear colleagues,

It is difficult today to find any news about higher education that does not include a reference to accreditation. There seem to be accreditation detractors at every turn with varied perspectives on how things need to change. Such scrutiny reinforces our need to be thoughtful and deliberate in the accreditation activities we pursue and the decisions we make.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy’s tenure as NWCCU president, I’m excited about the direction and progress that he has already established. We are revising our Standards and Eligibility Requirements, updating policies and procedures, and re-engaging at multiple levels with our regional and national peers in accreditation. In my estimation, we are off to a great new start under Sonny’s leadership.

Contributions from Commissioners
Sandra A. Suran, CPA
The Suran Group

Economic Factors Impacting Workforce Preparation

There are greater implications to the economic impact of higher education operations and programs than just the increasingly huge debt load on current and future generations.

Economists are voicing concern about whether higher education will ever provide the value to the younger generations (and to the macro economy of the United States) that the education is intended to provide. Currently, many believe that the costs of higher education have a net negative effect on the lifetime financial strength of students and of their future families. 

Robin Baker, Ph.D.
George Fox University  

Pen Making and Change

This morning my “inbox” had another piece from Inside Higher Education about a college that was responding to the changes in higher education by cutting more than 30 positions, ending numerous majors, in order to “chart” a path to the future. I have come to the point where I prefer not to read the latest news on our industry. We are living in a time of unprecedented change and it seems that there are far more questions than answers.

I am part of a profession, history, where we have been taught to “see” cultural changes happen in a society but we always “see” when the results are relatively clear. Predicting what shifts in cultural practice will have long term affects in the present is a much more difficult task. We do not see either the present or the future clearly because it is clouded with our own experience and expectations. For many reasons it would appear that humans are risk averse and, I think, we seek continuity and believe that the future will be like the past.

Keeping Accreditation Valuable
Lucas Kavlie, Ed.D., MBA, CCEP
Vice President of Academic Engagement
Western Governors University

I recently participated in a day-long symposium with several student debt advocacy groups and state attorneys general, hosted by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Panel discussions ranged from the changing student loans landscape, problems facing student borrowers, higher education policy changes at state and national levels, and balancing innovation with consumer protection. As the day’s conversations progressed, it became clear that many have lost trust in the institution of accreditation. 

The Power of Peers
Les Steele, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, NWCCU

NWCCU has just wrapped up our spring 2019 evaluation visits. These included twenty-four Mission Fulfillment, Mid-Cycle, Interim Candidacy and Ad Hoc visits. We sent visitors to campuses in three of our seven member states and Canada. In order to do these visits, we invited over 190 trained peer evaluators in order to send out a total of 120.  

We are grateful for our peer evaluators and the power of peers.

Maps and Missions
Sandra Pennington , Ph.D., RN,
Chief of Staff,
Office of the President and ALO
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

Jessica Egbert , Ph.D.,
Executive Vice President of Strategy and Engagement
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
Mapping (as an action) demonstrates connections and relationships between landmarks and is used to guide the traveler towards the specified destination. Enhanced by technology, including GPS and Google, mapping has become efficient and reliable while simultaneously retaining historic references and records.

Maps show us where we are going and tell us where we have been. If we are lost, a map can aid us in determining what road and direction are required to get back on course to our destination.

Serving Students: GE Assessment
and Remote Technology
Karen Carey, Ph.D.
Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies 
University of Alaska Southeast

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) is a regional university serving all of Southeast Alaska through campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. All three campuses share in the university’s decision-making processes and contribute to advancing student achievement and success. UAS is one of three separately-accredited universities that make up the University of Alaska (UA) system. With no community colleges in Alaska, UAS has a broad purpose – providing ‘community college’ (including occupational endorsements, certificates, and associate degrees), baccalaureate degrees, and graduate degrees within a single institution.

NWCCU 2019 Annual Conference

Value Proposition: Student Success

November 20 - 22, 2019

Hyatt Regency - Seattle

Plenary Speakers
Hotels and Travel

Visit our web page -

Notable Accomplishments
University of Idaho
program wins
Colleagues’ Choice Award

Daniel Campbell, Ph.D.
BOULDER— A faculty-productivity reporting tool developed at the University of Idaho was honored by the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum) Thursday at the group’s annual meeting in Boulder, Colorado. Daniel Campbell, PhD, director of assessment and accreditation at the University's College of Education Health and Human Services, accepted the Colleague's Choice Award, given based on peer vote for the best new academic tool or program presented during the “Great Ideas” panel at Thursday’s Forum meeting.

President Kusch recognized
by Idaho State University  
Join us in congratulating President Bruce Kusch of LDS Business College for being recognized with the Professional Achievement Award from Idaho State University. Professional Achievement Award recipients are Idaho State University alumni who have made important contributions to their careers or profession, to the social, political or economic well-being of the world around them, and have shown continued community and civic involvement in addition to their association with contributions to the University.

Pierce College recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the Top
Community Colleges in the Nation
Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, received the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence with a Rising Star Award of $100,000 for dramatically improving student outcomes. Pierce College was honored for improved student retention and completion over time, a commitment to equitable outcomes for students, service to military students and their families, and a dedicated focus on helping all students overcome obstacles.

The school’s completion rate of 59 percent is nearly 20 percentage points above the national average.

The Beacon Award for Excellence
in Student Achievement and Success
The Beacon Award for Excellence in Student Achievement and Success is an annual award to recognize institutional or programmatic accomplishments in student achievement and success at the NWCCU family of institutions.

Three separate categories of The Beacon Award will be offered, based on unduplicated student enrollment during the most recent fall student headcounts: institutions with fewer than 2,000 students; between 2,000 and 6,000 students; and more than 6000 students.

Nominations must be received by the NWCCU no later than July 31, 2019.

See the NWCCU website at for additional stories of institutional accomplishments.
Catalyzing Student Success
At this year’s NWCCU Annual Conference, Wednesday, November 20, will be devoted to networking and hands-on learning about best practices and effective research, initiatives, and programs that impact the academic success of students.  The workshops offered throughout the day may be highly beneficial to participants from Minority Serving Institutions and tribal colleges and universities. The list of confirmed speakers and facilitators includes:
  • Dr. Tia Brown McNair - Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, American Association of Colleges and Universities, Washington, DC
  • Dr. Jessica Taylor - Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Multnomah University, Portland, Oregon
  • Dr. Jose Enriquez - CEO Latinos in Action, Sandy, Utah
  • Mr. Cesar Perez - Director, Jerome and Gooding Centers & Hispanic Community Liaison, College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, Idaho
  • Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, President, Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida
  • Dr. Daniel Peterson, Vice President for Development, University Advancement, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • Dr. David Iyall, Senior Director of Philanthropy, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
From Anecdotal to Actionable
Earlier this year, President Ramaswamy reached out to member institutions to learn from their work around data collection and measuring mission fulfillment. The critical significance of data has never been more important as we continue our NWCCU Standards Revision process around the central notion of improving student achievement and student success. To support these continuing conversations, NWCCU is holding several convenings in the months to come. Oregon institutions will be meeting on July 12 th in partnership with the Oregon Student Success Center to discuss “Learning, Achievement, Indicators, and Benchmarks: Working Collaboratively to Support Institutional Improvement.”  NWCCU will be offering a webinar on the same subject on October 18 th, followed by a presentation on November 22 nd, at the Annual Conference entitled “From Anecdotal to Actionable: Using Data to Drive Institutional Change” which will feature a panel of regional members sharing their ideas and best practices.
NWCCU Standards Revision
Feedback from the regional survey, Town Halls and online public comments concluded in March with over 700 accumulated comments that were shared with the Standards and Bylaws Committee of the Board of Commissioners.

NEW Themes for The Beacon
The 2019-2020 Themes for The Beacon guide the content of The Beacon’s featured articles and support the efforts of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Four themes have been determined for the next four issues of The Beacon in the 2019-2020 academic year. They are:

  • August 20 – Student Achievement
  • November 20 – Managing Change
  • February 20 – Closing Equity Gaps
  • May 20 – Global Citizenship

The required format for featured articles in The Beacon is simply to provide content in a professional manner appropriate to the Northwest region. The software interface accommodates any type of media including video. Please submit articles for consideration in association with the theme of one of the four issues and email the article as an attachment one week prior to publication dates, or earlier. If you have any questions, or would like to submit an article, please contact Pamela Goad at
Retention, Completion, and Student Success Academy
NWCCU has selected its initial participants for the Retention, Completion, and Student Success Academy, which will launch on November 20, 2019, at the NWCCU Annual Conference. The program to be offered by regional and national thought-leaders, including Kristi Wellington-Baker, Shauna Davis, Michael Anthony Baston, and Elizabeth Cox Brand. The Academy is a mentored experiential learning platform to support institutions and faculty in their efforts to promote student success. The results of the year-long project will be shared at the 2020 Annual Conference.
NWCCU Institutional Portal Coming soon!

Keep an eye on your inboxes this summer for directions on how to access the NWCCU Port, the new portal for accredited institutions in the seven states of the U.S. and the province of British Columbia, Canada. 

Update on Annual Report
NWCCU is now subscribing to IPEDs and National Student Clearinghouse, and can access institutional data. Therefore, starting with this year, NWCCU will use a significantly streamlined Annual Report that only requires institutions to submit information that is difficult to get by other means. NWCCU’s commitment is to continue to streamline processes and procedures that we hope will help reduce the burden and costs to institutions.
The deadline for receipt of the completed 2019 Annual Report is Thursday, August 1, 2019.

New Presidents in 2019
Boise State University
Marlene Tromp, Ph.D., President
July 2019
Blue Mountain Community College
Dennis Bailey-Fougnier, Ph.D., President March 2019
Central Oregon Community College
Laura Chesley, Ph.D., President
July 2019
Helena College
Laura Vosejpka, Ph.D., CEO/Dean
June 2019
Chemeketa Community College
Dr. Jessica Howard, Ph.D., President
July 2019
Reed College
Audrey Bilger, Ph.D., President
July 2019
Spokane Falls Community College
Kimberly Messina, Ph.D., President
June 2019
University of Idaho
C. Scott Green, Ph.D., President
July 2019
Weber State University
Brad Mortensen, Ed.D., President
January 2019
Bill to Help Homeless College Students

NWCCU Data Trends
Standard 2 Recommendations
(Spring '14 - Spring '18)
Between Spring 2014-Spring 2018, 848 Recommendations in total were issued. Standard 2 comprised 345 of them. The pie chart above shows the breakdown of the top 10 categories of Standard 2 Recommendations that were issued. 
Standard 2.C Education Resources
Frequency Count
Late Breaking News
NWCCU Election of New Commissioners

The votes are in and tallied with 43.1% of member institutions voting. Please join the Commission in welcoming Noelle Cockett (Utah State University), Scott Finnie (Eastern Washington University), and Mark Mitsui (Portland Community College) to the Board of Commissioners. The new Commissioners will be seated during the Commission meeting in June 2019 or January 2020, and their terms begin thereafter.
NWCCU Calendar and Events
Mission Fulfillment Fellowship
JUNE 2019 - MARCH 2020
The University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington Read more

Next Commission Meeting
JUNE 19-21, 2019
Park City, Utah

Learning, Achievement, Indicators and Benchmarks
JULY 11, 2019 8:30 am - 3:30 pm PST
Workshop at Lane Community College, Oregon Read more

2019 Annual Report Deadline
Thursday, AUGUST 1, 2019 Read more

Assessment Essentials
OCTOBER 18, 2019
Portland, Oregon Read more

From Anecdotal to Actionable: Using Data to Drive Institutional Change
OCTOBER 18, 2019
NWCCU Webinar

NWCCU 2019 Annual Conference
NOVEMBER 20 - 22, 2019
Seattle, Washington Read more

Catalyzing Student Success
NOVEMBER 20, 2019, NWCCU Annual Conference
Open to all members, Seattle, Washington

Retention, Completion, and Student Success Academy
NOVEMBER 20, 2019, NWCCU Annual Conference
Invitation Only, Seattle, Washington

From Anecdotal to Actionable: Using Data to Drive Institutional Change
NOVEMBER 22, 2019, NWCCU Annual Conference Session
Seattle, Washington

See the NWCCU website for registration for specific events, and for more details:
Thank you
The Beacon is NWCCU's quarterly newsletter to inform its member institutions and other stakeholders of updates, news, resources, and information pertaining to accreditation and higher education issues. Please send your comments to Pamela Goad ( or Jan Wilson ( as well as inquiries for a contribution to The Beacon.
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