Accreditation FAQs

Why do we do accreditation?

Accreditation assists in institutional improvement and our assessment of the quality of our programs and services for our community. In addition, as summarized by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU, our accrediting body), there are important regulatory reasons to participate in the accreditation process: “Accreditation or pre-accreditation by a post-secondary regional accrediting agency qualifies institutions and enrolled students for access to federal funds to support teaching, research, and student financial aid.”

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What are the new Accreditation Standards?

NWCCU has transitioned to a new set of standards since our last comprehensive Self-Study report in 2005. There are five standards total, and together they form a seven-year accreditation cycle. From the NWCCU website’s introduction (

The five Standards for Accreditation are best understood within the context of the seven-year accreditation cycle. Although each is to be addressed during different stages of the cycle (Standard One in year one, Standard Two in year three, Standards Three and Four in year five, and Standard Five in year seven), the standards are interconnected and build upon each other in a recursive cycle of continuous improvement. For that reason, as an institution focuses on a given standard(s) for its Self-Evaluation Report, it does so in light of the standard(s) that have already been addressed, with the result that the information and analysis of previously addressed standards may be updated, expanded, and modified to produce a cohesive report.

Design and Function

The five Standards for Accreditation are statements that articulate the quality and effectiveness expected of accredited institutions, and collectively they provide a framework for continuous improvement within institutions. The five standards also serve as indicators by which institutions are evaluated by peers. The standards are designed to guide institutions in a process of self-reflection that blends analysis and synthesis in a holistic examination of:

  • The institution’s Mission and Core Themes;
  • The translation of the Mission’s Core Themes into assessable objectives supported by programs and services;
  • The appraisal of the institution’s potential to fulfill the Mission;
  • The planning and implementation involved in achieving and assessing the desired outcomes of programs and services; and
  • An evaluation of the results of the institution’s efforts to fulfill the Mission and assess its ability to monitor its environment, adapt, and sustain itself as a viable institution.

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How can I be involved?

Currently, there is an Accreditation Committee in place which will act as a steering group for the effort of discussing and documenting these new standards and our Self-Study reports.

If you feel you would like to provide ongoing input regarding a service area or population that makes up part of the UCC community as we refine our self-study, it would be great to have you as part of the Accreditation Committee.

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When are UCC’s reports due under these new guidelines?

Report Due Visit or Self-Study Report
Year One December 2011 Self-Study Report
Year Three October 2012 Visit & Report, in Fall 2012
Year Seven  March 30, 31 and April 1, 2016 Visit & Report

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Why is there such a short time period between each report?

Once the new standards have come into full use across the Northwest, the reports will be due in the actual intervals the name implies. However, during this first cycle with the new standards, NWCCU needs to fit all of the colleges and universities into an accreditation schedule in a timely manner. This means different things for different schools, but at UCC, it’s working out as a compressed time between the Year One, Three, and Seven reports.  We will start a full seven-year cycle after the Year Seven report and visit in 2015. 

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What does the Year One report include?

The Year One report includes a full description of Standard One, which covers UCC’s Mission, Core Themes, and Expectations.

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What does the Year Three report include?

The Year Three report includes a full description of Standard Two, which covers UCC’s Resources and Capacity for mission fulfillment.

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What does the Year Seven report include?

The Year Seven report includes a full description of Standard One, Standard Two and Standard Three, which covers Planning and Implementation, Standard Four, which covers Effectiveness and Improvement, and Standard Five, which covers Mission Fulfillment, Adaptation and Sustainability.

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Who is on the UCC Accreditation Committee?

Administrators: Jason Aase, Dan Yoder, Joan Campbell, Micque Shoemaker, Tena Lammers, Jesse Morrow, Carol McGeehon, Jessica Richardson

Student: ASUCC Public Relations

Faculty: André Jacob, Martha Joyce, Debi Gresham, Jennifer Lantrip, Mike Matteo, Gary Gray, John Blackwood

Classified: Brian Proctor, Michael Olson, Les Rogers

Institutional Research: Xiana Smithhart

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Standard One

What is included in Standard One?

Standard One includes the Mission, Core Themes, and Expectations of the college. From NWCCU:

The institution articulates its purpose in a mission statement, and identifies core themes that comprise essential elements of that mission. In an examination of its purpose, characteristics, and expectations, the institution defines the parameters for mission fulfillment. Guided by that definition, it identifies an acceptable threshold or extent of mission fulfillment.

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What are Core Themes, Objectives, Mission Fulfillment and Indicators of Achievement?

Core Themes are essential aspects of the college’s mission. The Core Themes are how we operationalize our mission and demonstrate our institutional values.

Objectives are the more specific elements of how we identify success in fulfilling our Core Themes purpose. For example, if a Core Theme is Transfer Education, than one of several Objectives we have might be that we want our students to have a high level of degree completion.

Indicators of Achievement are the data for each Outcome.

Mission Fulfillment is the comprehensive measure of success across multiple Objectives for each Core Theme and is the final “goal” for achievement of that theme.

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What are the Core Themes at UCC?

Core Theme 1: Promoting student access and success

Core Theme 2: Supporting quality learning through academic transfer education

Core Theme 3: Supporting quality learning through Career and Technical Education

Core Theme 4: Supporting quality learning through student transition education

Core Theme 5: Serving our community through quality, life-long learning in the areas of cultural, economic, workforce, self-improvement and professional development

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How do Objectives and Indicators of Achievement fit into the Core Themes?

According to NWCCU standard 1.B.2, each institution is asked to “establish objectives for each of its core themes and identify meaningful, assessable, and verifiable indicators of achievement that form the basis for evaluating accomplishment of the objectives of its core themes.”

In other words, we are asked to “show our work” on each theme –

  • What standard of achievement do we expect to see that shows the importance of the theme at UCC? (What are our Objectives?)
  • What level of achievement of the standard do we expect to see to indicate success? (What are our hoped for Outcomes?)
  • How do we measure the level of achievement currently happening with the data we have? (What are Indicators of Achievement for each standard?)
Core Theme 1 Objective 1.a Outcome measure 1.a Indicator of Achievement (data)
  Objective 1.b Outcome measure 1.b Indicator of Achievement (data)

Example Objectives & Indicators Grid

Each Core Theme can have more than one Objective and each Objective can have one or multiple Indicators.

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Standard Two

What is included in Standard Two?

Standard Two includes evaluation of the resources and capacity of the college. From NWCCU:

By documenting the adequacy of its resources and capacity, the institution demonstrates the potential to fulfil its mission, accomplish its core theme objectives, and achieve the intended outcomes of its programs and services, wherever offered and however delivered. Through its governance and decision-making structures, the institution establishes, reviews regularly, and revises, as necessary, policies and procedures that promote effective management and operation of the institution.

What are the Key Resources Described in Standard Two?

  • Governance
  • Governing Board
  • Leadership and Management
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Institutional Integrity
  • Human Resources
  • Education Resources
  • Student Support Resources
  • Library and Information Resources
  • Financial Resources
  • Physical and Technological Infrastructure

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Standard Three

What is included in Standard Thee?

Standard Three includes evaluation of how the institution engages in ongoing planning and implementation of changes From NWCCU:

The institution engages in ongoing, participatory planning that provides direction for the institution and leads to the achievement of the intended outcomes of its programs and services, accomplishment of its core themes, and fulfillment of its mission.  The resulting plans reflect the interdependent nature of the institution's operations, functions, and resources.  The institution demonstrates that the plans are implemented and are evident in the relevant activities of its programs and services, the adequacy of its resource allocation, and the effective application of institutional capacity.  In addition, the institution demonstrates that it's planning and implementation processes are sufficiently flexible so that the institution is able to address unexpected circumstances that have the potential to impact the institution's ability to accomplish its core theme objectives and to fulfil its mission.

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Standard Four

What is included in Standard Four?

Standard Four includes evaluation of how the institution regularly evaluates effectiveness and uses evaluation to improve outcomes.  From NWCCU:

The institution regularly and systematically collects data related to clearly defined indicators of achievement, analyzes those data, and formulates evidence-based evaluations of the achievement of core theme objectives.  It demonstrates clearly defined procedures for evaluating the integration and significance of institutional planning, the allocation of resources, and the application of capacity in its activities for achieving the intended outcomes of its programs and services and for achieving its core theme objectives.  The institution disseminates assessment results to its constituencies and uses those results to effect improvement.

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Standard Five

What is included in Standard Five?

Standard Five includes evaluation of the extent to which the institution is fulfilling it's mission.  From NWCCU:

Based on its definition of mission fulfillment and informed by the results of its analysis of accomplishment of its core theme objectives, the institution develops and publishes evidence-based evaluations regarding the extent to which it is fulfilling its mission.  The institution regularly monitors its internal and external environments to determine how and to what degree changing circumstances may impact its mission and its ability to fulfil that mission.  It demonstrates that it is capable of adapting, when necessary, its mission, core themes, and services to accommodate changing and emerging needs, and influences to ensure enduring institutional relevancy, productivity, viability, and sustainability.

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Who can I contact if I have more questions or comments?

Please feel free to contact any of the Accreditation Committee members and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. We also welcome comments and suggestions!