Student Success:
Today's Generation of Learners
Are You Ready?
Sonny Ramaswamy
President, NWCCU
"By selecting the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use if not sought for and cultivated." Thomas Jefferson, 1782

Thomas Jefferson, as a founding father, was likely the most significant proponent of higher education in the nascent republic, endeavoring to democratize higher education. The model of postsecondary education—funded by the public for the benefit of the public—envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Baldwin Turner, Justin Smith Morrill, Abraham Lincoln, and Lyndon Johnson, along with the GI Bill and other such congressional action—has long disappeared from the American landscape, morphing in the late 20 th and early 21 st Centuries into a system predominantly supported by user fees, aka tuition-based, or development of other models, including for-profit institutions. 

New Commissioner Highlights
Dr. Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University
Since January of 2010, Dr. Waded Cruzado has served as the 12th President of Montana State University (MSU), Montana’s largest institution recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as one of 108 universities for its “Very High Research Activity” and one of 66 institutions recognized by Carnegie as a “Community Engaged University.” and one of 66 institutions recognized by Carnegie as a “Community Engaged University.” As President of MSU, Cruzado has significantly reshaped the face and future of the state’s first land-grant institution. An articulate and inspirational speaker on the role of land-grant universities, she has become a well-known champion of the land-grant’s tripartite mission of education, research and public outreach. 

Ms. Sandra Suran
CPA, The Suran Group Founder
Sandra Suran, CPA, founded The Suran Group in 1990 to help organizations accomplish sustainable changes while building organizational resilience. Projects include organizational assistance with mergers; strategies for linking departments and for improved effectiveness; ramp up and governance for organizations experiencing rapid growth and major change; strategic and operations planning and implementation. That entails linking traditional Risk Management (process improvement, risk Assessment, financial/ information analysis) with Organization Development and other areas including marketing, human resources, and systems integration.

Featured Contribution
Intentional Leadership to Achieve Outcomes that Advance Equity

Dr. Matthew Campbell
VP for Learning and Student Success
Pierce College

It was a great opportunity to speak as part of the NWCCU Annual Meeting and to be able to share a little bit about what Pierce College is doing to drive student success. This article is particularly focused on experiences at Pierce College, but with concepts that are, I believe, relevant and scalable to the full scope of accredited institutions.

For the session, I wanted to capture several elements that I believe are intertwined and essential with regard to how we move higher education in a positive direction for students. Ultimately, it centers on achieving mission in a way that advances equity, through education, for each of our communities of learners.  

Calendar of Events
Notes From the Annual Meeting
See the NWCCU website for registrations of specific events, and for more details at:
Strategic Pathways
The Commissioners held a planning retreat on November 15 in Seattle, one day after the Annual Meeting of the Commission. The purpose for the retreat was to develop a preliminary set of goals and actions for an initial draft of the Commission’s strategic plan. Commission Chair Joe Brimhall and President Sonny Ramaswamy presented opening remarks regarding the current circumstances of American higher education, with a specific focus on the evolving role of regional accreditors. As the consultant to the planning process, Larry Large supplemented their remarks with an additional perspective on higher education that helped set the agenda for a full day of intense examination of the NWCCU mission and planning for the future.

The overarching theme for the day was “Student Achievement and Success.” The process included establishing five Working Groups (WGs), each with a specific focus: Student Success, Governance, Standards, Leadership, and Innovation and Technology.  After examining the issues within the small group format, the WG chairs presented their findings and received comments and suggestions that helped to refine each WG’s initial draft. As the Strategic Plan is prepared, there will also be a simultaneous review of the NWCCU Mission Statement in order to assure alignment.

The next steps of the process efforts of a Planning Council of NWCCU staff to develop and to integrate the recommendations of the WGs into a preliminary and comprehensive draft of a strategic plan. Chair Brimhall and President Ramaswamy will then comment on the preliminary plan, as will the WG Chairs. The preliminary strategic plan will be presented to the Commission at its January 2019 meeting. The plan will include an “Implementation Appendix,” to assist the staff and the Commission in monitoring the progress over time and allow for amendments as external circumstances change.

Between the January 2019 and June 2019 Commission meetings, the draft will be available for review and comment from member institutions. At the June 2019 meeting, the Commission will take action to formally accept the strategic plan, as amended, and to begin its implementation.
NWCCU Data Trends
Averaged Graduation Rates and Retention Rates for NWCCU Members
NWCCU Standards Review
As part of its ongoing process of self-reflection, and in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations and NWCCU Bylaws, NWCCU began its cycle of review and revision of its Eligibility Requirements, Policies, and Standards of Accreditation on September 1, 2018. This exercise provides all constituents the opportunity to assess the processes around NWCCU’s accreditation activities (including the cycle of evaluation and the methods of evaluation). The process includes seeking input from key constituents, including institutional leadership, faculty, staff, and students, as well as the public. Conversations have focused around the themes of: Student Achievement and Success, Risk-Based Accreditation and Alternative Pathways, Governance, Efficiency and Effectiveness, and Transparency.

Over the last several weeks, the Commission has sought input via online surveys, which will continue to be collected through December 1, 2018 via our website ( ). Sonny Ramaswamy and several NWCCU staff also have traveled to and engaged in Town Hall conversations seeking input at campus locations in Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Two additional Online Town Halls are scheduled for 1:00 pm PST on December 6 and December 11, 2018. 
The input gathered will be used by the Commission to create a set of draft revised Standards, Policies, and Eligibility Requirements. Following an initial period of review and public comment, a second review period and call for comment will be made available in summer 2019, for further revision. The final, revised Standards, Policies, and Eligibility Requirements will be adopted for implementation beginning in January 2020.
Additional Resources:
Higher Education Webinars offered by NCHEMS
Sally M. Johnstone, President
The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) is turning 50 years old. During those decades, we have served almost every U.S. state, dozens of higher education systems, many higher education institutions, plus had the opportunity to partner with multiple associations. We have worked with all the regional accrediting commissions and a few national accreditors. Our work typically involves analyzing, designing and assisting with implementation of data affirmed practices to serve the needs of students. To celebrate we are offering the field of U.S. higher education the gift of series of webinars throughout 2019.  

Notable Accomplishments
Highline College’s Umoja Black Scholars program is a culturally focused learning community. Students participate as a cohort in the first year and study subjects through an African-American lens. Students remain Umoja Scholars until graduation, benefitting from mentorship, advising and participation in Umoja events. Through Umoja, students create a family-like atmosphere and support system, with second-year students mentoring incoming students. While Umoja targets black/African-American students, it is open to all students. (For more information, contact Kari Coglon Cantey, Associate Director, Communications and Grant Writing Institutional Advancement).
The University of Washington is listed at No. 5 on the Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities. The list ranks educational institution that are doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies, and help drive the global economy. As stated by UW President Ana Mari Cauce, “Innovation at the University of Washington is driven by a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration and a deep-seated public service mission. This mission is at the heart of our work to educate, improve health and well-being, and create a more prosperous and equitable future. We are proud that the UW continues to earn recognition as the leading public university for advancing knowledge and discovery, and that we’re doing so through our unique form of inclusive innovation.”
See the NWCCU website at for additional stories of institutional accomplishments.
Update on Technology: E-check Payments
Good news! NWCCU has been working to set up a reliable system for e-check payments of invoices. After testing some options that have not worked, we now have one that is working and is reliable. Beginning with the invoices for the 2018-2019 Annual Dues, the emailed invoices will have a link at the bottom of the email message that says “View and Pay Invoice”.
Clicking on the link will allow you to enter your bank information and the payment will be sent to NWCCU via ACH. The bank information is kept securely with the current PCI Level 3 compliance Data Security Standard. Please contact Kayli Martin ( [email protected] ) for additional information. 
On the Move
Former NWCCU Commissioner, John Kroger, Joins Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University

Former President of Reed College, John Kroger, joined the Commission in 2015 and served as a Commissioner until 2018 when he stepped down as Reed College’s president.  John has joined the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence for the 2018-19 academic year. He will be the second higher education leader to hold the title of Hauser Leader-in-Residence, following Harvard President-elect Lawrence Bacow. During his term, John will also serve as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, where he will teach Criminal Procedure during the fall term and a reading group during the spring term. He also joined Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics as a research fellow.

In Memoriam
Jonathan Lawson
Jonathan Lawson was well-known to NWCCU through his leadership and service as an evaluator dating back to a comprehensive evaluation in 1997. Jonathan passed away on the morning of September 11, 2018, at the age of 77 at Pocatello Regional Medical Center in Idaho. 

The Beacon is NWCCU's quarterly newsletter to inform its member institutions and other stakeholders of up-dates, news, resources, and information pertaining to accreditation and higher education issues. Please send us your comments via email at [email protected] or contact us if you would like to contribute to The Beacon.
Supporting Quality in Higher Education