NAU gearing up for accreditation renewal process
NAU's review for accreditation renewal by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association is scheduled for fall 2007, but the university has set the wheels in motion by forming a self-study steering committee. The self-study is an investigation of institutional performance according to criteria of accreditation. It's a universitywide process through which NAU will assess its strengths and identify opportunities for improvement.

The self-study "will not only be useful in the accreditation process, but also will provide the campus with guidance about the investment of energy and resources in the future," said Karen Pugliesi, vice provost for Undergraduate Studies.

Pugliesi and NAU President John Haeger, Provost Liz Grobsmith and Associate Vice President for Planning and Budget Pat Haeuser have designed a three-tiered organizational strategy for the self-study.

Overall direction for the study will be provided by a small group called the Self-Study Team, comprising Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Thomas Paradis, director, Office of Academic Assessment, Pugliesi and Haeuser. Pugliesi, who coordinates university accreditation and serves as liaison to the Higher Learning Commission, will chair the team.

The Self-Study Team will consult and collaborate with a larger Self-Study Steering Committee, which will include:

Susan Fitzmaurice, dean, College of Arts and Letters (co-chair)
MJ McMahon, executive vice president and vice president, administration and finance (co-chair)
Joe Armijo, NAU student
Sarah Bickel, associate vice president for Student Affairs
David Camacho, special assistant to the president
John Campbell, director of academic computing, Information and Technology Services
Don Carter, director, E-Learning
Brandon Cruickshank, chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Bruce Fox, director, Honors Program
Deborah Harris, associate dean, Student Life
Fred Hurst, vice president, Distance Learning and dean, Distributed Learning
Stephanie Jacobsen, associate executive director, Academic and Student Affairs
Arizona Board of Regents
Nick Lund, executive director, NAU-Yuma
Susanna Maxwell, vice provost, Academic Personnel
Betsy Putman, director of development, College of Business Administration
Mary Reid, Faculty Senate representative and associate professor, Department of Geology
Wayne Sjoberg, faculty athletic representative and professor, Department of Psychology
Diane Verkest, director, Human Resources
Angela Willeto, associate professor, Department of Sociology and Social Work

Karen Appleby, president's and provost's offices, and Christy Arazan, Planning and Institutional Research, will provide support for the self-study process.

The Steering Committee also will lead five task forces, each of which will focus on one of the five criteria for accreditation. The criteria are 1) mission and integrity; 2) preparing for the future; 3) student learning and effective teaching; 4) acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge, and 5) engagement and service.

Pugliesi said many members of the campus community will be enlisted to work on the criterion-focused task forces, which will be formed later this semester. She said the self-study effort will move into full force next August. The report is scheduled to be completed by fall 06 and will be delivered to the Higher Learning Commission in spring 2007.

Questions about the process can be directed to NCASelf-Study@nau.edu.