Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Re: accreditation

Posted on March 29, 2009

This has been a full week for me. I have just spent the past few days at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., serving as the chair of their Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reaccreditation team. WASC is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States.

Pomona is a quintessential liberals arts college, about the same size as Wheaton, which is why I agreed to chair the review. You always learn a tremendous amount by delving into the internal life of another institution--particularly one similar in size and mission to Wheaton. With our own reaccreditation visit from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in the fall, the opportunity to lead the review of another school proved to be extremely valuable. Indeed, it affirmed the power of a community united around a common purpose.

This the first of two visits to Pomona, the second of which will be scheduled in two years.  The purpose of this first session (the Capacity and Preparatory Review) was to determine if the college is ready to undertake an Educational Effectiveness Review. Prior to the visit the college prepares a self-study, which is sent to the reviewers.  During the visit, it is our responsibility to ascertain the extent to which what is described and analyzed in the self-study reflects the realities that we experience in meeting with various constituents on the campus.

It was an intensive visit, which concluded with a private meeting between me and the President and an exit interview with a larger group of administrators and faculty. As soon as that meeting was over on Friday, I drove to the Los Angeles International Airport to take a flight to Tucson, Arizona.  I flew to Tucson to have dinner with John and Adrienne Mars '58 (Life Trustee).  The next morning I flew back to Los Angeles for a brunch at the home of Barbara Davenport '60 and John McLoughlin.

The brunch was attended by about 50 Wheaton people.  Included in the crowd were the parents of several current students, including the parents of the two Rory's (Rory McGonigle and Rory Wurfbain, both of whom are members of the Class of 2012 !).  Interim Provost Elita Pastra-Landis and I were the speakers for the event.  Fortunately, it was an absolutely picture-perfect California day, so we were outside in Barbara and John's beautiful garden. On Sunday, a college gathering at the home of Wheaton parents in San Francisco.

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