Wasc committee left to right: Francisco Hernandez, George Pardon, Samuel Smith, Beverly Buckles, Gary Ford. Victoria Billings/MustangDaily
Wasc committee left to right: Francisco Hernandez, George Pardon, Samuel Smith, Beverly Buckles, Gary Ford. Victoria Billings/MustangDaily

Cal Poly received high marks last Thursday from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) review team after a week-long visit of classes, campus facilities and a special student forum.

The team came to campus last week to review Cal Poly’s accreditation and evaluate the school. Though administration never thought Cal Poly’s accreditation was in danger, those preparing for the visit wanted to show Cal Poly’s best side, said Cal Poly Center for Teaching and Learning Director Bruno Giberti, who helped organize the visit.

The better a school scores in its WASC report, the longer

a period it is given before the next accreditation review, up to a maximum of 10 years. The report is not entirely finished, but based on the team’s final presentation, Giberti said Cal Poly scored very high.

“I think we can expect those 10 years,” Giberti said.

At Thursday’s meeting, former Washington State University president and leader of the WASC team Samuel Smith commended Cal Poly on its dedication to improving the school.

Cal Poly had shown improvements since the WASC team’s visit two years ago for an educational effectiveness review, Smith said at the meeting. That initial visit, which did not affect Cal Poly’s accreditation, instead helped the WASC team highlight areas the school should work on before last week’s visit.

And in those past two years, Cal Poly made strides in the areas specified by the educational effectiveness review, Smith told those present.

Cal Poly clarified the definition of a “comprehensive polytechnic” education and involved students in their future with initiatives such as the Student Success Fee, Smith said. Cal Poly also boasted a 10 percent increase in six-year graduation rates, from 65 percent to 76 percent during a 10-year period.

The team also applauded work done to improve the campus and maintain Cal Poly’s good reputation.

“Your commitment to having Cal Poly remain as an outstanding academic institution is superb,” Smith said at the meeting.

In final remarks, the WASC team touched upon how Cal Poly has faced increasing budget cuts. George Pardon, the CFO and vice president for administration of California State University (CSU) Los Angeles, said Cal Poly’s commitment to maintaining and increasing services was rare among universities.

“In so many situations people use the budget deductions as an excuse not to do something,” Pardon said at the meeting.

Cal Poly, on the other hand, looked for new revenue sources and continued to fund classes and campus improvements, Pardon said at the final presentation.

The WASC team did name several areas that needed attention though, including continuing to improve graduation rates and focusing on increasing diversity.

All in all, the WASC team gave a very positive review of Cal Poly,  College of Science and Mathematics Dean Phil Bailey said. The compliments and critiques were both very useful, Bailey said.

“The whole report was very positive, and the recommendations were right on,” Bailey said. “There are things we need to do, and I think we have a university commitment to do them.”

Cal Poly will continue looking for new ways to improve diversity and graduation, Bailey said.

But even with the critique’s, WASC’s report was gratifying, Bailey said.

“When you’re going through something like this, you want to put your best foot forward,” Bailey said. “But you also have doubts about what that best foot is.”

The WASC team’s report, though, confirmed that Cal Poly had done just that, Bailey said.

The team’s report was especially rewarding because of all the work put into the visit, Giberti said.

“To tell you the truth, I think that they were very complimentary in the exit meeting, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t have some hard questions in the interviews that preceded that,” Giberti said.

Now that the WASC team has left, the members will finish writing a full written report that will go into more detail than the Thursday meeting. The report will be sent to Cal Poly for correction, and then presented to WASC to determine Cal Poly’s accreditation status.

Giberti, however, is confident that no corrections will need to be made.

“Based on what they told us today, I don’t think we’re going to be complaining very much,” Giberti said.

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