The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. It is comprised of three commissions including the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS). Brandman University is part of a network of over 170 institutions that collaborate with WASC on the senior level to implement the most effective strategies for student success. As a private, nonprofit institution, discover how Brandman aligns with WASC standards to provide students with busy schedules quality education without exception. Read on to learn the pillars of excellence that the accrediting body measures colleges and universities on and how Brandman lives up to these qualities.
WASC was founded over fifty years ago, on July 1, 1962 and since then has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education. As part of this larger structure, the ACSCU is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. Its leadership recognizes that a major factor in the evolution of higher education exists in the form of tremendous diversity of its institutions and demographics they serve. Across this wide spectrum however is the single common understanding that the industry represents service to the public and to the individual.
As the accrediting body elegantly states, “Higher education has created the conditions for improving quality of life, solving problems, and enabling hope, which are essential to supporting economic prosperity and sustaining democracy in the United States. Accreditation is committed to the application of standards of performance, while affirming that high-quality education, irrespective of the different purposes of individual institutions, is in itself a contribution to the public good.”
Mission and Educational Objectives
The core functions that drive this pillar are integrity, transparency and autonomy. To achieve these qualities the school must provide formally approved statements of character while expressing how they contribute to the higher education community and society as a whole. The objectives set forth by the university must also align with these published statements and make data regarding student success publicly available. Academic freedom is promoted at every level of the organization and must be publicly stated. This liberty applies to all community stakeholders including faculty, staff and students. The University or College also dedicates itself to open communication in reporting truthful information to the public as well as the accrediting body.
Brandman University is proud to follow these guidelines by promoting its Mission, Vision and Values throughout its community. The purpose of the institution is to impart knowledge and skills that help students achieve their dreams. The university lives out five core values which include Respect, Innovation, Service, Teamwork and Integrity. In terms of transparency, the school publishes an annual Fact Book which reports on updated student success rates, top academic programs, enrollment numbers, population demographics and more.
Following Core Functions
The second pillar of WASC includes achieving educational objectives through core functions. The purpose of this section is to encourage teaching and learning, scholarship and creative activity, and student success. Factors that define this section include student learning outcomes, clearly stated performance standards at the course and program levels, technology resources and the wider learning environment. At a baccalaureate level the institution should provide curriculum that is engaging and fosters citizenship and lifelong learning. Graduate degrees then follow suit by integrating advanced scholarship and professional practice in course work. WASC guidelines also require schools to track student satisfaction and how the environmental experience provided contributes to student success.
Brandman consistently evaluates its academics through the eyes of its students by deploying assessments year around including bi-annual satisfaction surveys. The studies analyze university functions such as student services, faculty, staff, instructional technology and pace of learning. As successes and opportunity areas are identified, senior leadership adapts necessary changes needed for continuous improvement. In 2013 the results of one of these studies showed that more than 86% of Brandman University students said they would recommend the school to others.
Quality and Sustainability
Applying the appropriate resources to achieve organizational goals is a best practice not only in business but in running a successful educational institution. WASC recognizes this and holds its network members accountable through managing its faculty, staff, fiscal, physical and technological resources efficiently. The accrediting body states, “These key resources and organizational structures promote the achievement of institutional purposes and educational objectives and create a high-quality environment for learning.” Leadership at all levels is expected to display characteristics of integrity, high performance, respect and responsibility.
Brandman balances full-time and adjunct faculty members, ensuring workload fair and manageable for both teachers and students. In fact, Brandman has more instructional faculty members for its Online Bachelor’s Programs than the Top Ranked University in its category nationwide, evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. Innovation and technological advancement are continuously pursued through program assessment and development, providing sustainable solutions for the future.
Learning and Development
Part of contributing to the betterment of higher education involves creating organizations committed to quality assurance, institutional learning and improvement. WASC requires its regionally-accredited schools to employ quality-assurance processes in both academic and non-academic areas. Faculty members, university leaders and community stakeholders actively collaborate to ensure student success. Inquiry, research and data collection are important elements to establishing priorities, planning and implementing effective best practices. As a result of this standard, the university or college must have an institutional research capacity that correlates to its purposes and publicly stated characteristics. All of this information should be distributed to both internal and external members of the community in order to foster a regular pace of institutional improvement.
As part of its mission to create a culture of life-long learning, Brandman promotes learning and development across all functions from staff to student. Many of its programs, including its nursing and health professions degrees, are centered on evidence-based education. Leadership and management courses focus on data-driven decisions and cross functional case studies help integrate real-world perspectives into curricula. The organization itself has a learning and development department that works cross-functionally across departments to foster collaboration and personal growth among colleagues.