CWRU prepares for a review of its accreditation status


Arianna Wage/Observer

A view of Adelbert Hall, which contains Case Western Reserve University’s administrative offices.

This spring, Case Western Reserve University will undergo a major review of its highest-level accreditation status, which allows the university to offer students federally-based financial aid. One part of the review will include a survey available to all CWRU students.

CWRU’s review will be from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

“Holding accredited standing means that CWRU conforms to certain minimum standards of quality and operations,” said CWRU chemical engineering professor and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Donald Feke. “Losing accreditation status would be very detrimental to the university.”

The HLC accreditation process occurs on a 10-year cycle, with the last major review in 2005. CWRU has received its institutional-level accreditation continuously since 1967, when Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology combined. Both universities had been accredited prior to their merge.

A survey of the CWRU student body is one factor that is considered in the review. The survey, which will ask students about various aspects of their experience within the university, will be available from Feb. 2 to Feb. 12. According to Feke, the survey is anonymous and should only take around 10 minutes to complete. Results from the survey go straight to the HLC.

If there are any noted concerns, the HLC may ask the school to respond with possible ways to address them.

Another factor is the Assurance Argument, which is a compilation of documents and policies which provides evidence for the school’s accreditation criteria.

Feke has been the chair of committee, whose purpose is to gather information for the Assurance Argument, since 2011. The culmination of documents over several years led Feke and the committee to identify some areas where CWRU needed to produce more reports or enact new policies to satisfy the expectations of the accreditors.

A draft for the Assurance Argument is complete, and the deadline for its final submission is mid-March.The committee plans to provide around 550 different items of evidence to the HLC.

Review of this set of material usually takes around one month, during which an HLC team will visit campus. When the HLC team is on campus, there will be an opportunity for students to meet with them and participate in an open forum. The entire process will take a few months to complete.

The HLC expects two key components from its accredited schools: to ensure the quality of CWRU’s operations and stimulate CWRU to improve.