In pursuit of continuous improvement and following “a steady, upward course,” BYU-Idaho is implementing plans to respond to the recommendations received by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), who evaluated the university this past April, and is reviewing their commendations.
After meeting with at least 40 small groups of faculty, staff, and administrators via Zoom, the NWCCU peer evaluation team presented a draft report to the university in May. In June, Director of Institutional Effectiveness & Accreditation Boyd Baggett and University President Henry J. Eyring will represent BYU-Idaho in a meeting with the NWCCU commissioners and peer evaluation team chair. Following this meeting, the NWCCU will send a final accreditation response letter to BYU-Idaho in July. This letter will include recommended timelines for the university to follow. The type and timing of follow-up required will be determined by the NWCCU later in the summer or fall.
“Many of the recommendations we received are already being worked on as part of the strategic priorities for the university,” Baggett said. “We have identified stewards for each recommendation, and will be putting together action plans for each one once we receive the July letter. Plans are already being discussed.”
The following are the NWCCU’s current recommendations for BYU-Idaho:
- Ensure that programmatic assessment processes are improved, consistent, and verifiable for all programs to better identify opportunities to continuously improve program quality.
- Increase and strengthen the use of disaggregated indicators of student achievement to reduce equity gaps and other barriers to academic excellence and success.
- Review and improve decision-making structures and processes to consistently include provisions for the consideration of the views of faculty, staff, administrators, and students on matters in which each has a direct and reasonable interest. All such policies should also be documented and publicly available.
- Exercise effective managerial, curricular, and student learning outcomes oversight of the independent institution BYU-Pathway Worldwide to ensure that it maintains effective learning environments with appropriate programs and services to support student learning and success.
BYU-Idaho’s efforts to improve will mostly take place in the already-existing academic program reviews, regular strategic planning processes, stewardship reviews, core theme reviews, and employee reviews as we move forward to address these recommendations.
“Our efforts in meeting the NWCCU standards are much larger than simply meeting the minimum expectations,” Baggett said. “We are striving to keep our BYU-Idaho long-term strategy and planning aligned with efforts of continuous improvement.”
In addition to those areas the NWCUU suggested BYU-Idaho improve upon, they also commended the university in the following efforts:
- The university’s “student focused by design” paradigm and concern for individual students, as well as the student body as a whole.
- The university’s ability to provide higher education access to BYU-Idaho’s constituencies, both domestic and international, through open admissions policies, strong student support services, numerous online programs, and low costs.
- The value the university places on institutional integrity and the university’s communications with students and the public.
- The university’s sound frugal financial management that provides funding for ongoing capital needs, emergency asset replacements, and mandatory compliance facilities requirements, which have virtually eliminated campus deferred maintenance liabilities.
- The university’s ensured optimal campus infrastructure care and virtually no deferred maintenance through exemplary and proactive procedures that employ BYU-Idaho and BYU subject matter experts in ongoing updates to the campus’ capital needs assessment model.
- The university’s outstanding organizational leadership in the IT department that provides departmental portfolio managers, product managers, and project managers, which competitively positioned BYU-Idaho to make rapid and effective adjustments to online learning at the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Baggett credits these commendations to the hard work of BYU-Idaho’s dedicated employees.
“We want to thank everyone who helped with the preparation of our accreditation reports over the past couple years,” Baggett said. “Countless hours were spent reading, writing, editing, and formatting the reports, and all that was after the many hours of various council meetings, department meetings, review processes, and dozens of Zoom calls. I am also thankful to everyone who provided summaries, dashboards, and examples that were used for evidence of our efforts at BYU-Idaho to meet the spirit and the letter of the NWCCU accreditation standards. Thank you to all of you who contributed—faculty, staff, students, and administrators. We are truly blessed to work and study together at BYU-Idaho.”