Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in Danbury, CT has had its accreditation renewed by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and their Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. This certifies the university has remained in compliance with NEASC's rigorous standards.
Earlier this month, Commission Chair Jean Wyld informed WCSU President James Schmotter of the continuation of the university's accreditation.
Results of 2-year intensive study
The Commission's decision followed a two-year process of self-study conducted by the university community and a site visit to Western in fall 2013 by a NEASC team of faculty and administrators from colleges across New England, who submitted their report to the Commission in November.
Western: NEASC accredited since 1957
The Commission commended the "comprehensive and well-written self-study" submitted by WCSU and noted with approval the university's clear articulation of its mission and its open and transparent structure of shared governance.
Wyld's letter singled out a diversity of accomplishments since NEASC's last major accreditation review of Western a decade ago including the establishment of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, introduction of a new education doctoral program in instructional leadership, a 100 percent pass rate for WCSU nursing students in the state board examination, and adoption of a tiered, competency-based model for general education by the University Senate.
"As demonstrated through the self-study and acknowledged by the (NEASC) team, WCSU is committed to the comprehensive assessment of institutional effectiveness," Wyld said. "We note with favor that more than 650 members of the campus community are involved in various planning initiatives, and the academic program review process was recently modified to include the assessment of program viability and alignment with the university's strategic plan."
WCSU faculty praised for excellent teaching
Wyld went on to have high praise for Western's highly qualified faculty, comprised of "active, engaged scholars and practitioners."
She observed the university's mission is carried out successfully through "effective and excellent teaching." The Commission also recognized the university's provision of a wide range of academic and student services.
"We share the judgment of the team that there is much to celebrate in the university's growth and development over the last decade," Wyld wrote. "With a highly respected and able president, a new, energetic and competent senior leadership team, and dedicated faculty and staff, Western Connecticut State University is well positioned for future success."
"Homework" assignments for WCSU, due in 2014, 2016
In keeping with its policy requirements for periodic accreditation reviews, NEASC has requested Western to submit a fifth-year interim report for its consideration in fall 2018.
The Commission indicated that the interim report should give specific emphasis to achievement of enrollment, retention and graduation goals, assessment of student learning outcomes, implementation of the university's strategic plan, and evaluation of the impact of higher education governance changes in the state of Connecticut.
The Commission also instructed the university to submit a separate report in spring 2016 to provide an update on the implementation of a new online Ed.D. in Nursing Education program that is being offered in a collaboration between WCSU and sister institution Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
Next evaluation in 2023
NEASC has scheduled its next comprehensive evaluation of WCSU for fall 2023. "The Commission hopes that the evaluation process has contributed to institutional improvement," Wyld wrote. "It appreciates your cooperation with the effort to provide public assurance of the quality of higher education in New England."
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York.
Their vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England's best small private universities.