University wins reaccreditation, praised for commitment

Approval comes after 2 years of study

Posted: Thursday, January 06, 2000

After pausing to congratulate themselves for being reaccredited for 10 years, University of Alaska Southeast officials said it's time to get to work.

``It doesn't mean the job is done, though,'' said UAS Provost Robbie Stell. ``It means we have to keep doing high-quality work, because they'll be back.''

The Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges recently confirmed in writing what was obvious in October 1999, when a team of academics visited the Juneau campus and delivered a glowing verbal review.

The accreditation team praised UAS for its commitment to students, distance-learning opportunities and improvements in quality.

``Many of us, believe me, are envious of this sort of community,'' said accreditation team chairman Richard Dunn in October.

``This is important because it's like a quality stamp of approval on UAS by a team of our peers,'' said Chancellor John Pugh.

The accreditation follows two years of self-study by the university.

``One of the things I think UAS got out of it is the fact the faculty, staff and students worked together in the self-study process,'' Pugh said. ``We came together as a university a lot stronger than before.''

The self-study made UAS much more aware of the need to have more faculty in core academic areas, such as math, science and the social sciences, Stell said.

Students and graduates said that's needed to enrich the curriculum in higher-level courses in bachelor-degree programs.

The self-examination also led the university to narrow its mission to its four bachelor-degree programs and some vocational programs, Stell said.

``We spent a lot of time being aware our mission was much too broad for our resources and our size of students,'' she said.

Accreditors recommended UAS start long-term planning for finances, enrollment, program quality and capital expenditures.

They also said UAS needs to clarify its procedures about designing and implementing curriculum across its three campuses, in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. And they said UAS needs more support staff for computer and media services.

The university will begin strategic planning this spring and also will work on its curriculum procedures, Pugh said.

Adding technical support staff is in the university's proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Pugh said UAS isn't limited in staff now, but if it wants to expand its courses delivered via television or by computers, it will need to keep up with support staff. But it can be hard for UAS to compete with salaries in other state technical jobs, he said.

UAS, with campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, has 73 full-time faculty and 505 regular and temporary employees. Juneau has about 2,500 full-time and part-time students. Ketchikan has about 600, and Sitka 1,300.

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