Accreditation team to evaluate CSUN’s standard of education

A.J. Circhirillo

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CSUN is under a microscope this week as an accreditation team roams campus to see if the university is maintaining its standards of education.

“One of the things that our provost said at the beginning of this process was that this is something that we have to do,” said Dr. Elisabeth Say, dean of humanities and co-chair of the steering committee.  “We can either do it kicking and screaming and complaining about it, or we can take advantage of it and learn something about ourselves in the process. That’s the approach we chose to take.”

A steering committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students examined the colleges for the past five years to make sure they were prepared for the evaluation, Say said.

In addition to the formal evaluation, student leaders and faculty have been chosen to discuss their university experience before inquiring accreditors.

CSUN undergoes an accreditation every 10 years by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a non-profit organization of three commissions which test the effectiveness of colleges and schools throughout California, Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Basin.

“What I got out of the process is a much deeper appreciation for how good this university is,” said Say, who leads the committee with Michael Neubauer, liberal studies director. “We have great faculty, we have outstanding students and we have an administration that really cares deeply about the success of this place.”

Passing the WASC accreditation enables the university to continue receiving federal aid, Say said.

Geography alumnus Mark Turgeon said he was able to get a job after graduating CSUN because of where he earned his degree.

“It was a great program that I was in,” Turgeon said.  “I think that CSUN has one of the best geography programs in the country.”

Turgeon said he returned to CSUN for his master’s degree because he wanted to continue learning. His experience gave him an opportunity he would not have gotten otherwise, he added.

Senior psychology student Alexis Milne has a different impression of CSUN. She transferred from Santa Monica Community College where, she said, the classes were more rigorous.

“I have a professor this semester who told the class that the whole point of the class was to be present,” Milne said.

Students are losing the ability to explore college and broaden their knowledge base because of a sense of urgency to graduate students, Milne said.

Milne described CSUN as a factory instead of a place of higher education.

“If their goal is the grad rate, that doesn’t mean much, Milne said.  “What are we coming out with and what kind students are leaving here?”

Over the past five years, Neubauer and Say have studied and prepared for the accreditation.  Neubauer said the university has made great strides, but there is still work to be done.

“We were in charge of making sure the process moved forward, we were on the right timeline, and the right people were involved,” Neubauer said. “The three things we proposed were, learning as an institution, faculty and staff support for university success, student success through engagement and learning. We wanted to make sure to involve the right people for each theme.”