Thompson Rivers University has been granted accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) two years ahead of schedule.
This makes TRU the first institution in BC to achieve accreditation from the commission in less than three years (the candidacy period is usually five years). Simon Fraser University and Capilano University also have NWCCU accreditation in British Columbia.
“We are amazed, gratified, and humbled. This wasn’t expected for at least another two years,” said TRU President Brett Fairbairn.
“NWCCU accreditation is an external validation process akin to peer review, with the outcome attesting publicly to TRU’s credibility and effectiveness in fulfilling its mission. Accreditation provides our students the assurance of a quality education at TRU and sends a signal we are serious about being the best we can be. Achieving accreditation does not mean our work is finished; rather it sets us on a path of continual quality improvement.”
TRU began its accreditation journey 10 years ago with preliminary discussions among senior leaders and faculty. In the absence of a national accreditation body, TRU looked south to the Washington-based NWCCU which oversees accreditation in seven states and evaluated the two other BC universities.
“TRU’s ability to meet all the stringent eligibility requirements and NWCCU standards speaks to the quality of this university, the immense collaboration between all areas that have come together throughout this process and our commitment to putting student success first,” said TRU Provost and Vice-President Academic Christine Bovis-Cnossen.
Led by the provost’s office, the accreditation initiative involved individuals across TRU. Bovis-Cnossen said the dedication of TRU’s faculty and staff to ongoing quality improvement, and the commitment shown through the process with NWCCU, is why TRU achieved accreditation in three years versus the five-year period afforded by NWCCU when TRU was granted accreditation candidacy in 2016.
“There have been three site visits to TRU from 2016 to 2019 and evaluators have commended TRU in a number of areas, including our commitment to fostering intercultural understanding, our ongoing improvements to Open Learning, and our authentic and genuine response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report,” she said.
This accreditation milestone is not the end of the journey, but is ongoing, as TRU will work toward meeting recommendations for improvement identified by NWCCU and will continue with ongoing assessment and quality improvement through a regular cycle of NWCCU reviews.
In granting TRU accreditation status, NWCCU President Sonny Ramaswamy remarked, “TRU is to be commended for its commitment to student success. This recognition is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication on the part of administration, faculty, staff and the board of governors to achieve this goal.”
Under the NWCCU’s seven-year accreditation cycle, self-evaluated and peer-evaluated reviews of TRU’s accreditation status will be undertaken in spring 2022 and spring 2026.
TRU is accredited at the associate, baccalaureate and master’s degree levels and is compliant with the standards, policies and eligibility requirements of the NWCCU. The designation is retroactive to September 2018.
In the recent letter granting accreditation, the NWCCU commended TRU for:
• excellence in sustainability and integration of this theme in the university’s operations
• efforts to grow research impact with a focus on student success
• the development of budget approaches which have provided funding for strategic investments and funds to address deferred maintenance
• the university’s inclusive, student-centered, faculty-driven process to create a General Education Program that has resulted in a highly engaged culture around the undergraduate curriculum
In addition to the above commendations, TRU received new recommendations from the evaluation team. As an accredited institution, TRU now enters a seven-year cycle with continued work to meet NWCCU’s recommendations, including self-evaluated and peer-evaluated reviews of accreditation in spring 2022 and spring 2026.