Another 4/1/2019 update:
The influential Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also wrote to the NWCCU against their plan to remove academic freedom from their accreditation standards:
Full letter here.
We write to you with an urgent request to take action and protect academic freedom as a standard and criterion for accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the largest single accreditation body in the region. Inexplicably, the latest draft of accreditation standards from the NWCCU removes all references to academic freedom and to institutional bodies and practices of shared governance such as university senates, faculty vote and voice, and tenure (see the proposal and compare to current standards here). The strong emphasis on centralized authority and the implicit erasure of faculty participation in decision-taking is new and it is a threat to the integrity of higher education at hundreds of colleges and universities in the region. …
As you can see below, many issues with these proposed revisions remain unresolved, but NWCCU Pres Sonny Ramaswamy has promised to keep freedom, and give more time for input on other issues:
From: Sonny Ramaswamy <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 10:07 PM
Subject: Revision of NWCCU’s Standards
Over the last couple of weeks we have received emails regarding NWCCU’s draft, revised Standards from AAUP affiliates and faculty senate chairs, and provosts of a few institutions. (Those individuals are copied on this email.)
Additionally, we have received input during conversations with some individuals.
Based on the recent input received, we’ve made a decision to incorporate appropriate language in our draft Standards for Academic Freedom and Governance, along with revisions on other matters suggested by others.
We’ve extended the deadline for submission of additional comments for revisions through April 15, 2019.
The draft will be revised and sent out for further comments in May. The draft will be revised based on this round of comments.
After the Commission has provided additional comments on the near final draft, it’ll be revised as needed. Then it’ll be sent out for a vote by NWCCU’s family of institutions to approve the proposed Standards in late Summer 2019.
As I have noted previously, this is an iterative process and we appreciate the input, which continues strengthen the Standards.
Our hope is that, once approved, the new Standards will be deployed starting in January 2020.
If not already done, please connect with your relevant faculty organizations on your campuses, such as faculty senate chairs, and exhort them and other faculty to provide input regarding the draft Standards.
They may submit their comments on the current version of revised Standards available at (http://www.nwccu.org/accreditation/standards-review/) either via this link (https://www.tfaforms.com/4719938) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for your help.
Sonny Ramaswamy, President
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8060 165th Avenue NE, Ste 100 | Redmond, WA 98052
Dear Pres Ramaswamy –
I’m glad to hear this. Thank you for responding to the concerns regarding academic freedom.
For those from other institutions considering commenting on the NWCCU’s proposed changes to our accreditation requirements, I’ve attached the letters to the NWCCU from the UO Senate and the UO Provost.
As you can see these address issues beyond academic freedom, and include such matters as shared governance, research, governing board evaluations, institutional control over transfer credits, student success metrics and their use.
I look forward to seeing how the next draft addresses these concerns.
For those interested, I’ll continue to update the posts at http://uomatters.com/tag/accreditation with new information.
University of Oregon
Senate Pres & Econ Prof
3/26/2019: UO’s accreditor considers weakening academic freedom and governance standards
Sorry, long post.