NORTH VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 13, 2013) - Capilano University has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), an independent, non-profit organization based in Washington State and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In granting Capilano University accreditation, the NWCCU closely examined the way the University operates and recognized it as having met rigorous international standards of excellence for higher education institutions when it comes to performance, integrity and quality.
"Being fully accredited by the NWCCU is a significant advantage for Capilano University, its students, faculty, and staff," says president and vice-chancellor, Kris Bulcroft. "It demonstrates we are a university that knows what our students learn, and through the clear learning outcomes, we foster the development of transferable, real-world skills. These include critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and community service."
Capilano University is only the second Canadian public university to receive accreditation in the United States and the first university to be accredited by the NWCCU. Accreditation will further enhance the University's reputation for providing quality education and its ability to meet student's needs, interests and academic and professional goals. It fully entrenches a culture of outcomes assessment and public accountability at the University and formalizes a process for continuous improvement.
Canada is the only developed country without a national post-secondary accreditation system. As a result, Capilano began exploring U.S. accreditation in 2005. While accreditation is mandatory for all U.S.-based post-secondary institutions seeking federal funding, Capilano University voluntarily embarked upon the pursuit of accreditation as a mechanism for a more formal approach to identifying and validating the effectiveness of its current practices as a teaching-focused institution. The process also helped to determine how well it was fulfilling its mission, values and vision and achieving its strategic goals.
The process-which customarily takes between five and seven years to complete-began in 2007 when Capilano University applied for accreditation candidacy which was granted in 2008. The next stage was a comprehensive self-study exercise and a site evaluation visit by NWCCU administrators and peers from accredited post-secondary member institutions. Subsequent evaluation visits took place in 2009 and 2010. The final step was a presentation to the commission board in January 2013.
Based primarily on the self-study evaluation, and with feedback from the NWCCU, Capilano University implemented a number of policies, procedures and actions including a cross-institutional assessment and benchmarking initiative. Such approach focuses on student learning outcomes for all academic courses and programs, ultimately benefiting students' learning experiences.
Other initiatives included the development of a long-term facilities master plan, outlining the requirements for new buildings, roads and social spaces for students.
The university received several commendations from the NWCCU's evaluation team, for example, on its core theme of community engagement: "…Capilano has taken seriously its outreach services, particularly with the First Nations Community."
"The Board of Governors is very grateful for the leadership, commitment, and considerable efforts of all in the Capilano University community in realizing the goal of full accreditation, and is very excited about the many benefits it will bring in the form of highly engaging learning environments, for current and future students," says Dr. Robin Brayne, Board Chair.
Established in 1952, the NWCCU is one of six independent regional organizations officially sanctioned by the U.S. federal government to assess post-secondary school educational quality and institutional effectiveness, and grant accreditation. Capilano University will be evaluated by the NWCCU on regular basis to determine its adherence to the best-practice standards set out by the commission.
"On behalf of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), we commend Capilano University for its demonstrated commitment to quality assurance and continuous improvement," says Dr. Sandra Elman President, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. "Capilano University is the first Canadian institution of higher education to be accredited by NWCCU. The Commission looks forward to working with Capilano University in the years ahead as we strive to further enhance the institution's academic quality and institutional vitality in the spirit of regional accreditation."
"Achieving accreditation in the NWCCU is a significant milestone for Capilano University, and provides more options for students in their pursuit of their post-secondary education goals," says Ruth Wittenberg, President of the B.C. Association of Institutes + Universities, of which Capilano University is a member.
As a NWCCU member, the University will share best practices with fellow member institutions and also provide advice to other Canadian post-secondary institutions undergoing the accreditation process or planning to in the future.
Capilano University is a learner-centred university with campuses in North Vancouver, Squamish and Sechelt, British Columbia. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the University currently offers 11 bachelor degrees as well as associate degrees and a range of diplomas, certificates and statements of completion. More than 7,500 students are enrolled in credit programs each term, with an additional 7,000 people taking non-credit courses annually. Capilano University has earned an international reputation for quality teaching, programs and services, instilling the knowledge, skills, motivation and attitudes that will enable students to become independent thinkers and learners, and to contribute effectively in a rapidly changing world. More information can be found at www.capilanou.ca.
The accreditation timeline and associated reports can be viewed here.