The process works to incorporate student voices to create the best GU possible.

Gonzaga’s reputation as a university that provides a well-rounded, top-tier education doesn’t appear out of thin air. There are a lot of hoops to jump through that make GU the qualified institution that it is today. 

The accreditation process is a self-study process that occurs every seven years to verify the integrity of an institution's education and its mission statement that allows it to keep operating in the way that it does. 

The overall goal of the accreditation is to  make sure GU is preparing students to be successful beyond their time at this institution.

Ron Large, associate provost and professor of religious studies at GU, is one of the main leaders making this process happen and said it is important in maintaining GU's reputation as it stands now.

Large said normally, Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) would review an initial report put together by people such as himself and from there, members of the NWCCU commission would send a team of evaluators to visit the campus.   

“It’s not just assessing where we are right now but it can also be aspirational in terms of your vision, faculty research and achievement, scholarships and all of that is part of the process,” Large said. “They run the whole gamut of who they will talk to.”

All of this is done to gain further insight on how effectively these institutions operate, the NWCCU uses the same assessments and standards for all states and regions that seek accreditation.

Like most everything, the accreditation is going to look a little different this year as it takes on a virtual form but the voices of students, faculty and staff are going to be heard just the same. 

Without this process, GU wouldn’t be able to give out the amount of financial aid that it does do right now. 

Beyond the idea that this process is one piece of criteria that allows GU to stand out as an academic institution, Large said this is also one of the largest factors to determine how much financial aid is given out to students each year. 

Assistant Dean for Student Involvement and Leadership, Colleen Vandenboom manages assessments of student affairs and involvement and is able to provide that data to the self study that first gets written.

“Any work that we’re doing, we always want to know: Are we accomplishing what we’re setting out to accomplish?” Vandenboom said. “Throughout the year, we do surveys, look at learning outcomes and test things to see if we’re accomplishing everything that we need to be.”

Research and assessments from departments directly dealing with student life are important to Large and the rest of the division. 

Vandenboom said there are four main areas that the university will get assessed on, one of which is constructed around the idea of how much of an institutional effectiveness GU is creating.  

On Monday a student and faculty forum will be open via Zoom that provides students the opportunity to talk about GU on a broad scale and give their 2 cents about certain aspects of the university that pertain to the categories of the evaluation. 

Following these, the staff forum will take place on April 20. Be on the lookout for emails with the Zoom links and further information regarding the overall effectiveness of GU.

Kayla Friedrich is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @friedrich_kayla.


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