Fresno Pacific University is celebrating an eight-year reaccreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), which reaffirmed the university’s status at its summer meeting, after a site visit this past spring.
The university has been accredited by WSCUC since 1965, which means FPU meets academic and other criteria that assure its quality to other educational institutions, employers, potential students and supporters. Accreditors set and enforce standards that affirm students of member institutions are learning and achieving their educational and professional goals. Graduates of accredited colleges and universities find their credentials are accepted by master’s and doctoral programs and are meaningful in the professional world. Accreditation applies to all FPU campuses: Fresno, Merced, Visalia and Bakersfield.
“Eight years is a strong vote of confidence in FPU,” said Gregory Zubacz, J.D., Ph.D., associate provost, who oversees FPU accreditation. “We are all about rigorous academic quality and continuous improvement in teaching and learning. Our recent reaccreditation reflects our commitment to our students, and we look forward to a bright future as we serve the people of the Central Valley of California and beyond.”
Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., provost/senior vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer, and Zubacz attended the WSCUC meeting in Berkeley, and outgoing President Joseph Jones, Ph.D., participated via telephone.
Reaccreditation is a multi-year process that includes self-analysis and reporting by the university and evaluation visits and reports by teams of experts from other colleges and universities chosen by WSCUC. This peer-review process ensures that a university understands and achieves its mission and values. Team members affirm strengths and make recommendations on areas to improve. FPU faculty and administrators regularly serve on evaluation teams for other WSCUC members.
During the site visit, which occurred in March, the commission commended FPU for:
• The GEIST (Grow Strategically, Engage Collectively, Innovate Creatively, Serve Courageously and Transform Purposely) strategic plan framework, which the FPU Board of Trustees has extended until 2025.
• The improvement of the university’s financial position since the last site visit. The team noted the Culture and Arts Center is fully paid for and called it “a significant addition to the campus community as an event and gathering space, and an organic link to the wider Fresno community.”
• The development the FPU Diversity Rationale and Diversity Plan as “foundational documents for further progress” as the institution grows and encompasses greater diversity within its student body, staff, faculty and administration.
In its recommendations section, the commission endorsed:
• Accelerating the progress on key issues of diversity, equity and inclusion to ensure the participation of the full range of university stakeholders.
• Evaluating the program review process to guarantee faculty partnership, the relevance and accuracy of data and clear oversight and accountability.
• Ensuring that faculty take collective responsibility to establish standards of performance and demonstrate systematic assessment of the achievement of these standards.
In 2024, WSCUC will engage in a special visit at which FPU can demonstrate its progress on these recommendations.
The WASC Senior College and University Commission is one the nation’s six regional accrediting agencies and serves public and private higher education institutions throughout California, Hawaii and the Pacific as well as a limited number of institutions outside the U.S. Through standards agreed to by member institutions, the commission encourages continuous institutional improvement and assures the membership and its constituencies that accredited institutions are fulfilling their missions to serve their students and the public.
In addition to WSCUC, several individual programs are accredited by national professional associations:
• Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).
• The baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
• School of Education credentials and certificates by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
• The social work program by the Council on Social Work Education Commission on Accreditation.
• The School of Business is in candidacy status for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
Fresno Pacific University is the only accredited Christian university founded in the Central Valley. FPU offers undergraduate, graduate and seminary programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation to more than 3,500 traditional and adult students on the main campus in southeast Fresno and regional campuses in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online. The university also reaches about 8,000 students through professional development studies. FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, and is a Hispanic Serving Institution, with a Hispanic student population of 56 percent. FPU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranked in the top tier among western universities—master’s category by U.S. News & World Report. Both U.S. News and Washington Monthly include FPU on their “Best Value” and “Best Bang for the Buck” lists, U.S. News places it at number 13 in its category for student social mobility and Money has ranked it at number 11 among 50 Best Colleges for Transfer Students.