Chancellor's Friday Letters

Passing All Our ‘Tests’

Passing All Our ‘Tests’

February 19, 2010

Dear Friends,

How do you really know if your University campus is “up to snuff” in areas that matter to students, parents, employers, faculty, staff, government entities, and the public?

Part of the answer can be found in rankings such as those compiled by the National Research Council, or public and professional media such as US News and World Report, Princeton Review, or Washington Monthly. We take these assessments with a grain of salt because they combine data-based elements with subjective and historical popularity and reputational factors.

Part of the answer, in more analytical and objective ways, comes from the University of California accountability report, which is found at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/accountability/, a substantive read for the discriminating individual.

Part of the answer comes from observing how students are voting with their feet – by expressing interest in attending, enrolling in, and persisting to degree … All these indicators are at all-time highs at UCR.

Part of the answer comes from noticing the success of our graduates and the broad impact on the quality of life writ large because of the new knowledge generated as it makes its way into all sectors of the economy.

Furthermore, there are program-specific accrediting agencies in some disciplines that hold programs to nation-wide performance standards.

For example, our School of Business Administration is accredited by AACSB, our Bourns College of Engineering is accredited by ABET, our Graduate School of Education and University Extension Department of Education are accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and we are just starting the accreditation process for our new medical school.

Finally, there is campus-wide accreditation, and that process occurs on a roughly 10-year cycle. The nation is divided into several regions each having its own accrediting body (ours is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, WASC). All regions are linked to the federal Department of Education. What is at stake?

Simply put, if one is not accredited as an institution, one is ineligible for federal support (i.e., read this as no federal student financial aid, grants or contracts). It is also academic purgatory to be on probation or anything other than fully accredited.

We have just completed our institutional accreditation process, and WASC’s view of us is very positive indeed.

In fact yesterday, I was joined by Tony Norman, Chair of the Riverside Division of the Academic Senate, and Dave Fairris, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in front of our accrediting board, WASC. This wasn’t a “trip to the principal’s office”, but rather a chance to discuss our achievements and aspirations with regional colleagues at the end of a multiyear process involving several detailed reports and site visits into the fabric of our wonderful campus.

WASC recognized us as a national model for achieving excellence through our unyielding commitment to, and success with, a diversity of people, ideas, and programs. Likewise, last fall, ABET recognized our Bourns College of Engineering as one of only three recipients across the nation with the Felbinger Awards for Diversity.

We were also specially commended by WASC for the integration of efforts and values between our academic enterprise and student affairs – we do it better than most universities across America. They think we are moving in exactly the right direction in establishing a strategic plan to enhance UCR’s excellence and accessibility, and by integrating a culture of assessment, accountability, and continuous improvement into our curriculum and its delivery.

We will receive WASC’s final decision within the month, but I left the meeting yesterday being both bullish on UCR, and immensely proud of our faculty, staff and students, the academic senate, and campus leadership at all levels that have positioned us well for the future.

In the spirit of the Winter Games and as Wayne Gretzky has said, greatness is skating to where the puck is going to be. UCR continues to skate very well indeed.

Best regards,


Tim White, Chancellor

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Sniffing Out a Good Deal

An entrepreneur has sniffed out the potential in UCR research about how mosquitoes detect their prey. The company is licensing the right to develop the research commercially. If the idea takes off, the world could have a better way to stop the transmission of diseases like malaria.

Dean Olds and the NY Times – we need more docs

UCR’s new dean of the School of Medicine, Richard Olds, emphasizes the need for more medical school seats in an article in The New York Times. The article deals with the flurry of new medical schools nationwide.

Alternative Energy in Palm Desert

Marine snails, sea urchins and coral have something to teach us about the storage of energy. In the next “Imagining the Future” lecture at the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center, assistant professor David Kisailus will talk about nature’s methods for energy storage. It starts at 6 p.m., Feb. 24.

Wondering what else is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

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