WASC – Will Accreditation Save our College?

It is not new news to any Providence student that our college has a very important visit coming up at the end of October. I know that the WASC (Western Association of Schools & Colleges) visit is important, but how did we get to this visit? What happens after this visit? To find out, I interviewed Dr. Mary Ellen Godfrey, who has been involved in the accreditation process since the beginning.

The process of accreditation started in 2004, before there were even students on campus. The first step was to submit documentation to prove Providence was eligible to begin. In December 2005, the step was completed and the college was given permission to move forward to step two of candidacy. There were two parts to this step: The Capacity and Preparatory Review and the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER). This required two reports, two visits, and a meeting with a WASC commission panel. In February 2009, Providence was given candidacy status. This meant that students could apply for federal loans and grants and that Providence could move on to the third and final step of Initial Accreditation.

Initial Accreditation is the outcome that we are seeking now. This requires two more reports, two more visits, and meeting with the WASC commission. In August, the second report, the EER, was sent to WASC. This was 60 pages of narrative documents along with 231+ items of evidence. On October 29-31, a team of six college administrators and professors will read over all of the documents and verify the description of Providence by coming to the campus. Right before the group leaves on the 31st, there will be a meeting for any of us to attend, summarizing what they saw and what they thought. In December, there will be a written report that we can see. In February, a group of staff members will meet with WASC. After this meeting, we will know if Providence will be officially accredited.

So, what does this all mean for Providence Sea Beggars right now? The WASC team is here to help us, and they are not our enemies. It’s a good idea to know the mission statement of Providence, just in case you get asked. When they ask you a question, be honest, but don’t give them more than what they ask for. It’s not a good time to complain about the cafeteria either.

What does this mean for us? It means we will have accredited degrees.

What does this mean for future Sea beggars?  Well, hopefully this will mean more Sea beggars! With accreditation, enrollment will potentially increase. How will this affect Providence alumni? Unfortunately, accreditation is not retro-active.

What about the faculty and staff? If we get accredited “They will all be cheering!” Everyone has put a lot of time, effort, energy and resources into the accreditation process over the past nine years. Therefore, prayers would be appreciated for faculty and staff as they make final preparations, the WASC team, and all those who meet with the WASC team.