Caltech Gets Reaccreditation for Ten Years Due to Intensive Work in Students’ Inclusion & Equity

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 19, 2021

California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has successfully finished its accreditation process, extending it for another ten years.

According to Provost David A. Tirrell, the few years- accreditation process was conducted with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and University Commission (WSCUC), which required a remarkable collaboration with Institute members, reports.

The Institute compiled its report to WSCUC last year, and the organization spoke with faculty, staff, and students in October. Student life standards were the commission’s priority in this accreditation process.

In addition, the new Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation (TPR) review by WSCUC urged colleges to choose self-reflection themes.

Lindsey Malcolm-Piqueux, Caltech assistant vice president, said that by picking themes related to changes that Caltech has developed since the last accreditation, the recent process was an opportunity to ensure that Caltech would contribute in a kind of institutional self-study that would inform future decision-making.

Following WSCUC’s request, Caltech chose the Core Curriculum and Academic and Co-Curricular Support Structures as two main themes.

Caltech’s vice provost, chief diversity officer, Cindy Weinstein, said that the co-curricular support had remained a key focus point since the last accreditation program for the Institute.

“I wanted the community to use the TPR as an opportunity to reflect upon the real changes on campus that have taken place with the greater focus on the student experience, such as the creation of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach” provost Weinstein explained.

WSCUC congratulated the Institute for its diversity, equity, and inclusion as primary values and a data-driven, evidence-informed culture. The commission also commented on two self-reflective themes by the Institute, saying that both fields need improvement.

In response, Provost Weinstein said that Caltech’s students are excellent at quantitative and critical thinking, but they slightly lack in written and oral communication, which demands their commitment to humanities and social sciences fundamentals.

“We need to close that gap…not to lower the quantitative reasoning but to improve our students’ oral and written communication core competencies,” Provost Weinstein explained.

The commission also pointed out that a focus on diversity and inclusion is needed in Caltech, despite Weinstein’s acknowledging the continuous attempt for a more diverse student body in race, geography, and first-generation students.

Based on the recommendations, Caltech has pledged to measure students’ experience in and out of the classroom; it will commit to further study and create an effort to understand issues (especially student’s self-confidence during the first year).

In response, the Student Affairs team, in participation with Malcolm-Piqueux, has begun a data-driven project to optimize student success. This project’s data will be open to the public.

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