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Capacity & Preparatory Review report


Introduction: A Guide for the Perplexed

A sensible man should not demand of me, or hope that when we mention a subject, that we shall make a complete exposition of it. – Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed

The prevailing expectation is that the Capacity and Preparatory Report will cover a very wide range of materials designed to demonstrate that UCSD fulfills its Core Commitment to Institutional Capacity. We interpret this to mean that we possess the capacity and processes that allow us to continue to deliver a high quality education to our students and to operate within the Standards expressed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Further, we are prepared and have the capacity to move ahead to the next stage in the reaffirmation of accreditation process – the Educational Effectiveness Review.

The first segment of this report is a description of the Institutional Portfolio, an extensive database of facts, figures, and documents that, taken together, provides the evidence for the institution’s ability to operate using a “culture of evidence” approach to institutional decision-making. Every fact, figure, and document indexed in this complex array is a publically available item. There are three basic sets of elements in the Institutional Portfolio: an updated set of figures that corresponds to and expands the data elements first submitted as part of our Institutional Proposal; the set “of prescribed exhibits and data displays including lists of institutional policies required by the Commission, together with more detailed breakdowns of student body characteristics…;” and an extensive matrix linking every WASC CFR to one or more extant university report, policy, or procedure. We believe that this table of linkages demonstrates the on-going and continual correspondence between WASC standards and our behavior.

The Institutional Portfolio is a series of links to an extensive array of on-line documents, which, if printed, would require many thousands of pages. Since we are limited in the number of pages we may submit in this report, we only present a simple summary of its elements and links to the source documents in the text itself. The electronic version of the report should quickly connect the online reader to the source documents provided the reader is also connected to the internet. In addition to the summary of contents and links, this portion of the report also points the reader to a limited number of materials that have been included in the printed Appendix materials. These Appendix materials are, we believe, the most concise figures that characterize the institution.

Three sets of reflective essays follow, each designed respectively to illustrate our thinking about the Special Projects that UCSD has selected to demonstrate the effectiveness of our educational approaches and institutional processes (see the Institutional Proposal – Section 6); the WASC Standards themselves; and the institution’s core commitment to institutional capacity and our preparedness to proceed with the reaffirmation process. The first two of the three reflective essays are, in fact, collections of related essays. The first set written by the faculty who are the members of the Senate/Administrative Committee on Accreditation. In these essays the faculty reflect on the meaning and importance of the four areas of special study which will form the heart of our Educational Effectiveness Review – Freshman and Entry Level Writing, Foreign Language Instruction, Undergraduate Program Review, and Information Literacy. The second essay is, like the first, a collection of essays – these written by undergraduate students who were participants in a college seminar on accreditation and reflect, as will be explained at the beginning of those essays, the importance and meaning of the WASC standards themselves as seen by these undergraduate students. The third essay is a Concluding Essay. This essay has two major components. The first discusses and demonstrates the way “the institution fulfills its Core Commitment to Institutional Capacity: The institution functions with clear purposes, high levels of institutional integrity, fiscal stability, and organizational structures and processes to fulfill its purposes–(WASC Handbook of Accreditation, page 41). The second demonstrates our preparedness move to the Educational Effectiveness Review by reporting the status of each of the four Special Projects that will serve as the bases for the Educational Effectiveness Review.

Finally, the report has a substantial number of Appendices. The first of these, Appendix A, documents “the institution’s response to previous concerns identified by the Commission in its action letter and major recommendations of the last visiting team” (Handbook, page 42). This Appendix contains important information that is referenced in other parts of this document and, perhaps, should be read before the remainder of the report. The content of the other Appendices is in the Table of Contents to this report and are pointed to at appropriate places in the report.

On the authorship of the report:

This report is the result of the collaborative effort of many individuals at UCSD – faculty, staff, students, and administration. These include, but are not limited to, the members of the three major committees who have guided our efforts in the reaffirmation of accreditation process. In addition the eleven students who were members of the CAT 124 Seminar on Accreditation have contributed greatly to our efforts. All of these individuals are identified in Appendix G. Several UCSD Staff members and student employees have dedicated a great deal of their work efforts to the preparation of this report and the accreditation web-site and we owe them special thanks. These hard working members of the UCSD community are Kirk Belles, Angie Chau, Mary O’Neil (now retired), and Dan Reeves. 

How to use the report:

This report can be accessed in two different modes. The first and most traditional is as a print document. The print document, together with the Appendix materials, allows the reader to examine the basic arguments that we make in order to demonstrate UCSD’s institutional commitment to capacity. The print version, however, does not make a full demonstration of UCSD’s commitment to a culture of evidence. In order to appreciate fully the richness of our commitment to capacity and the degree of institutional utilization of a culture of evidence, this report should be read in its electronic form while the reader is connected to the internet. In this mode, the links are active and the reader can fully explore the source documents. [If the electronic version is read without connection to the internet, it will appear very similar to the print version.] 

A word of caution:

We have fully checked all links pointed to immediately prior to the dissemination of this report. Over time, however, links go inactive, break, vanish, or relocate. We have a process that monitors and repairs broken links. It is almost certain, however, that between the time that the report circulates and the time that it is read, that some links will go inactive. If this occurs and is problematic please email us at the email address in the transmittal letter and we will do our best to exact an immediate repair.

The Institutional Portfolio

The Institutional Portfolio is a massive collection of documents that, if fully printed, would fill thousands of pages. The Institutional Portfolio has three major sections:

  1. Basic Descriptive Data
  2. Prescribed Exhibits and Data Displays (Stipulated Policies)
  3. CFR mappings (An extensive set of mappings between each of the WASC CFRs and UCSD documents. These mappings demonstrate the alignment between WASC Standards and Criteria and the way UCSD “does business.”

The entire Institutional Portfolio can be accessed from our Accreditation Web-Site () which is also linked to the electronic version of this report provided the reader is connected to the web as the report is being read. [A copy of the home page of the Accreditation Web Site is available in Appendix B. Links to earlier reaffirmation of accreditation reports can be found on the web site.] For the purpose of this print version of the report, however, we will provide a brief sampling of materials from each of the three major sections of the Portfolio in the text that follows. A complete listing of the content (and links) of each of the three sections of the Portfolio are provided in separate appendices as described below.

Basic Descriptive Data:

This section of the Institutional Portfolio contains a series of more than 20 data tables prescribed by WASC which, taken together, provide a fairly complete quantitative description of UCSD. These tables can be viewed in Appendix C of this report. In order for the reader of this report to obtain a “quick sense” of UCSD without examining all of the data tables and other documents we provide a brief summary of some of the results given in these data tables and in other documents. In the data which follows we present primary indicators for the academic year 2006-07 and corresponding values for ten years ago. These indices make clear the enormous growth of UCSD over the past ten years – approximately the time since our last reaffirmation of accreditation.

  2006-07 1996-97
Student Body Enrollments 26,976 18,032
(fall quarter headcount)  
Undergraduate 21,369 14,623
Graduate 3,740 2,186
Professional (Health Science) 1,597 1,223
Faculty (Ladder Rank) 945 935
% female 25% 16%
% non-Caucasian 21% 16%
Degrees conferred 2006-07 1996-97
Undergraduate 5,051 3,319
Arts & Humanities 519 475
Engineering 814 398
Natural Sciences 1,278 1,122
Social Sciences 2,436 1,320
Academic Masters (MA, MFA, MS) 512 278
Academic Doctorate (Ph.D) 517 278
Professional Masters (MBA, MAS, MPIA, MIA, MEng, MEd) 373 64
Professional Doctorate (DMA, EDD, AUD) 10 1
Applications for Admission
Freshman 43,586 23,685
Transfer 8,945 4,372
Graduate (all) (Fall 2004)   10,465 5,345
Professional (Health Science) (Fall 2004)   689 435
In State, Undergraduate Tuition and Fees $6,141 $2,798
Buildings 691 534
Gross square feet 14,384,111 11,267,029
Room count 30,160 10,229
Assignable square feet 9,043,716 7,242,114
Undergraduate retention and time to degree
Starting year 2000 1996
First year retention 94% 93%
Average time to degree 4.3 years 4.3 years
Six year graduation rate 86% 81%

Prescribed Exhibits and Data Displays:

This section of the Institutional Portfolio is made up a series of links to documents that are required by WASC and which are sometimes referred to as the Stipulated Policies. This component of the Portfolio can be accessed through our Accreditation Web Page. A complete “Table of Content” of this component of the Portfolio is provided in Appendix D which if viewed from the electronic version of the CPR report (while internet links are open) will provide the reader with direct links to the documents. In order for the reader of the print version of the CPR to derive a sense of the content of this portion of the Portfolio we provide a brief segment of its content with a subset of the Stipulated Policies concerning students:

Clearly defined admissions policies attentive to the special needs of international students

Policies on student rights and responsibilities, including the rights of due process and redress of grievances

Publications that include policies and rules defining inappropriate student conduct

CFR Mappings:

The final (and by far the largest) segment of the Portfolio – again accessible through our Accreditation Website – is the mapping of every WASC defined CFR (Criterion for Review) to a set of extant UCSD documents that illustrate the on-going alignment between WASC principles, standards, and criteria and UCSDs operational procedures. The documents to which the CFR are mapped are of a large number of different types. Some are from our procedure manuals, some are from reports generated by Senate/Administrative Task Forces, some are the published minutes of committees. In generating this mapping we tried to be comprehensive (but not exhaustive) and to provide clear illustrations of what we believe to be a rather complete alignment of WASC expectations and UCSD behaviors. Under any of the CFRs many more documents could have been linked. A complete copy of this portion of the Portfolio is provided in Appendix E. Since the purpose of these mappings is to be illustrative we have been selective in the numbers of illustrations for each CFR. For the benefit of the reader of this report in its print version we provide two illustrations of these mappings- CFR 2.10 and 4.1:

CFR 2.10

Regardless of mode of program delivery, the institution regularly identifies the characteristics of its students and assesses their needs, experiences, and levels of satisfaction. This information is used to help shape a learning-centered environment and to actively promote student success. Guideline: The institution's policy on grading and student evaluation is clearly stated, and provides opportunity for appeal as needed; and periodic analyses of grades and evaluation procedures are conducted to assess the rigor and impact of these policies.

CFR 4.1

The institution periodically engages its multiple consistencies in institutional reflection and planning processes which assess its strategic position; articulate priorities; examine the alignment of its purposes, core functions and resources; and define the future direction of the institution.

  • Policy and Procedure for Review of Undergraduate Programs

    The UCSD Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) has responsibility for review of undergraduate programs.
    Academic Affairs

  • UCSD's Six Colleges: Core Curricula and General Education Requirements

    Find out about the core curriculum and General Education requirements for each of UCSD's six colleges.

  • UCSD Self-Study for Reaffirmation of Accreditation, February 1998

    This document represents a key element of a community experiment. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) sponsored a series of workshops held during the 1995-96 academic year to develop a new process for reaffirming the regional institutional accreditation of major research universities that would meet the need for public accountability while being more relevant, useful, and economical for the campuses.

  • University Center/ Sixth College Neighborhoods Planning Study

    The University Center / Sixth College Neighborhoods Planning Study is intended to guide development of the core of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus. The study addresses significant changes that have occurred or are planned for the University Center and Sixth College neighborhoods since completion of the previous study in 1992-an increase in the development program for new buildings to 1.32 times the 1992 study level, the location of a permanent home for Sixth College, and the introduction of Light Rail Transit (LRT) rail lines with a station in Pepper Canyon.
    Physical Planning

  • Annual Reports of the Standing Committees

    This index page lists annual reports of standing committees by year.
    Academic Senate

  • Senate Council

    This committee oversees the business of the Academic Senate and shall consider issues of general interest to the faculty. It monitors and adjusts the work of the Senate's committees, and advises the Chair of the Division about campus business.
    Academic Senate

  • Senate-Administration Council

    This committee facilitates cooperation between the Academic Senate and the administration.
    Academic Senate

  • Student Life

    The purpose of Student Life is to foster the development of students beyond the classroom, build community on campus, encourage involvement in student life, meet the daily needs of students through the provision of services and facilities, advocate the needs of students to campus leaders, foster student pride and affiliation with UCSD, and assist the university in its efforts to recruit and retain students.
    Student Affairs

Reflective Essay: Faculty Reflection on the Special Study Themes

Before the faculty essay on each of the four special themes, we describe the theme, drawing on some of the language presented in the Institutional Proposal, which is available in its entirety in Appendix F.

Entry-level and Freshman Writing:


Helping UCSD students acquire the skills that are necessary for effective communication in standard written English has been important to the institution from its early days. Our approach to the teaching of writing-- or rather, our range of approaches-- is somewhat different from that of most Research 1 universities. Writing instruction at UCSD is not the responsibility of a single academic department such as English; rather, the responsibility is given to the six undergraduate colleges, together with the office that administers Entry Level Writing (formerly known as Subject A and often called remedial writing in other institutions). The teaching methods in the six colleges are adapted to their defining curricula. Some colleges have stand-alone writing programs, while others embed writing instruction in a core curriculum.

Proposed Actions

In 2003, the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) planned a review of writing improvement among UCSD students. This was an effort at empirical, quantifiable review that has seldom been undertaken. The review, which resulted in a summary report in 2006, was an attempt to see what type of information could be gathered from the scoring of a random sample of student papers by a faculty committee drawn from a variety of disciplines, not including writing instruction itself. (The detailed directions given to the evaluators in the pilot study of this process are included in Appendix 6.) A similar process was conducted for students who are placed in ESL or Entry-Level Writing before entering the college writing programs. The collective and cumulative evidence generated by these studies is being examined by Academic Senate and administrative organs as a way of beginning a discussion about the degree to which the campus writing programs enable UCSD students to write well.

College Writing from the Faculty Perspective:

The UCSD faculty expects students to develop the kind of writing skills that are appropriate to college-level and professional work. There is general agreement throughout the campus, and among the writing programs themselves, about the elements of good writing: rich and precise vocabulary, clear and grammatically correct sentence structure, appropriate and controlled tone, sound logic, fair and sufficient use of evidence, alertness to likely counter-arguments, subordination of detail to substance, and, perhaps most important, ideas that are worth arguing about. 

It is virtually self-evident that writing skills cannot be taught unless reading skills are taught at the same time. Good writers rely on the breadth of vocabulary, the understanding of context, and the sensitivity to tone that are developed only through wide and careful reading. Good writers also need to be good readers, critics, and revisers of their own prose. Further, it is pointless to talk about “good” writing that is not addressed to significant issues and does not rely on extensive critical reading about them. At UCSD, writing instruction is always supposed to be integrated with the reading and assessment of important works on important subjects. Some of UCSD’s college writing programs emphasize classic works of Western or world literature; others emphasize works that debate contemporary issues. In every case, however, writing and reading are meant to reinforce each other.

The long and varied history of writing instruction, going back to the ancient schools of philosophy and rhetoric, indicates that many methods can be used, as long as the considerations that we have mentioned so far are intelligently addressed. It is entirely possible that students with different academic emphases– the kind of emphases that are represented, in part, by the diversity among UCSD’s colleges-- will profit from different methods of instruction. This is one reason why, at UCSD, writing instruction adopts a variety of approaches, and each college has its own writing program. At many universities, “Comp” has a single, monolithic structure; UCSD has never wanted to limit its options in that way. The point of UCSD’s college system is to individualize the student experience as much as possible, to scale the university environment down to human size. An enormous, monolithic writing program would oppose that philosophy at a very basic level. In addition, it would make change and innovation in response to student needs very difficult.

One major difference among the UCSD writing programs is that between (A) programs that are part of a sequence of “core courses” in the humanities or social sciences and (B) programs that “stand alone.” Readings in the “stand-alone” programs tend to focus on topics that can be addressed most conveniently in two 11-week quarters; readings in the core-curriculum courses, which may last for as long as 55 weeks, offer a wider range of topics. This has some effect on the way in which writing is taught. Nevertheless, every college writing program attempts to teach “transferable skills,” the kind of writing and reading skills that are likely to be useful in any serious intellectual endeavor. Every college writing program provides instruction, for example, in appropriate tone and vocabulary, effective rhetorical organization, and sound logic. If the primary subject of one course in a core curriculum sequence is (say) the culture of the ancient world, the writing skills developed in that course will not be those associated only with the study of ancient history; they will be the skills of assessment, argument, and self-expression that any educated man or woman needs to have.

Each college writing program aims for a synthesis of the critical tools (especially an understanding of structure, analysis, and argument) that prepare students for the rigors of university-quality writing beyond the confines of the writing classroom. We believe that the best way to provide our students with the requisite grounding in this pedagogy is to engage a wide range of faculty perspectives. Indeed, the entire UCSD faculty is involved to some degree in the development of the colleges’ approach to writing by virtue of faculty representation on each college’s writing curriculum committee. These advisory bodies, comprising faculty members from disparate disciplines, participate in the creation, vetting, and oversight of curriculum. Their active involvement is necessary to maintain vitality and integrity in the writing programs. We believe that the crucial link between core writing instruction and the application of writing skills in subsequent courses is strengthened by this level of faculty participation. 

At UCSD, the teaching of writing is not delivered simply by a corps of specialists. The four colleges in which writing is embedded in a larger core curriculum all employ faculty from a number of disciplines appropriate to the larger fields of study undertaken in the sequences. Students are exposed to a range of pedagogical approaches and disciplinary perspectives. While several of the faculty members in the two stand-alone writing programs have a background in composition research, the range of approaches is intentionally catholic, and individual instructors within these programs are allowed some latitude in crafting their own curricula. 

The writing programs all acknowledge that the teaching of writing has significant repercussions beyond the writing classroom. This allows the campus, in turn, to engage with the process of writing instruction—as, for instance, by means of the Academic Senate bodies most concerned with undergraduate programs. Writing programs have frequently been the subjects of review and discussion by the Committee on Educational Policy, the Committee on Preparatory and Remedial Education, and other bodies. The Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education has worked closely with the Senate, the college provosts, and the faculty immediately involved in writing instruction, generating new ideas and new discussions of traditional methods. Writing instruction is always an interesting issue on the UCSD campus.

The 2005-2006 attempt at an empirical review of student progress in the college writing programs is a case in point. The review has already been the focus of discussion for colleagues who wonder to what degree it was capable of generating useful data and, more broadly, to what degree qualitative improvement in writing can be represented in quantifiable terms. The 2005-2006 review appears to have heightened awareness that such complex phenomena as writing and writing instruction need to be assessed in a variety of ways and with a variety of methods. At present, there is much debate about these matters, and about the methods and validity of the 2005-2006 review. It is not yet clear what consensus will emerge when all voices are heard. Clearly, however, this many-sided discussion and debate is valuable in directing intellectual attention to a fundamental academic subject—more attention than it commonly receives on campuses where writing instruction is left entirely in the hands of a small group of single-method experts.

Delivery of Foreign Language Instruction:


While our proposed self-study on writing focuses on student-learning outcomes, the proposed self-study on the delivery of foreign language instruction focuses more on institutional and organizational learning outcomes. For many years, the campus has taken a somewhat unusual approach with regard to the instruction of foreign language. At UCSD, there are no academic units with the sole responsibility for the instruction of foreign languages, i.e., there are no departments such as a Department of French or a Department of Asian Languages. Rather, at UCSD language instruction is a shared responsibility of at least four academic units, Linguistics, Literature, History, and the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), who report to three different deans. These units are responsible for teaching multiple languages. For example, the Department of Linguistics instructs the entry-level courses (Language 1 sequences) in languages such as American Sign Language, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, as well as the Heritage Language courses. The Department of Literature teaches more advanced language courses (the Language 2 sequences, among others) in these and other languages including Italian, Korean, and Russian. Similarly, the Department of History has the responsibility for the instruction of Chinese, Hebrew, and Japanese through programs in Chinese Studies, Judaic Studies, and Japanese Studies. IR/PS offers undergraduate students the opportunity to learn languages of the Pacific Rim regions on a space-available basis.

This Balkanization of language instruction has proven to be somewhat problematic at a number of levels, not the least of which is the span of language coverage. This issue is of particular importance to Chancellor Fox and Senior Vice Chancellor Chandler, who have determined that international proficiencies will be a significant emphasis in undergraduate education. The degree to which language instruction conforms to contemporary, competency-based standards of language instruction and the degree to which the model will be able to sustain changes in student needs and interests are of paramount concern. 

Proposed Actions

In order to assure that foreign language instruction at UCSD is “on the right track” or to make modifications to the current system, a Faculty/Administrative Advisory Committee on Foreign Language Instruction was empanelled and has studied language instruction at UCSD for several quarters. This committee is expected to issue its report within the next few months and make a series of recommendations for the improvement of foreign language instruction. The proposed self-study is designed to focus on the processes of disseminating, evaluating, and implementing the recommendations of that advisory committee. Most importantly, as the advisory committee documents the progress of implementation, it will examine the impact that implementation has upon language instruction from multiple perspectives. These perspectives are:

The view of the student regarding    

  • the changing availability of courses,
  • perceived quality of instruction, and
  • changes in elective language-taking behavior;

The view of the instructor regarding    

  • the utilization of support services,
  • changes in instructional approaches and methods, and
  • instructor satisfaction;

The view of administration regarding    

  • costs,
  • course enrollments, and
  • instructor longevity.

Foreign Language Instruction from a Faculty Perspective:

When I arrived in San Diego to attend graduate school in the Department of Linguistics in 1983, I had already accumulated over ten years of professional experience in English as a second language (ESL) and German language instruction, testing, and course design in the German Adult Education Association (Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband), at private ESL and German language schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, and at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey. As a UCSD graduate student, I was a German teaching assistant (TA) in the Linguistics Language Program (LLP—at that time the Basic Language Program or BLP), a TA consultant for the Center for Teaching Development, in which capacity I worked with TAs in both Chinese and Japanese Studies, and a student in Chinese Studies myself for two quarters. As a faculty member, I was involved in two searches for an LLP Director, one of which I chaired to hire the current director. As department chair, I took on the acting directorship of the Heritage Language Program (HLP), helped to initiate and worked closely with the Faculty/Administration Advisory Committee on Language Instruction, and served on the language instructor subcommittee of the campus Unit 18 Lecturer Workload Taskforce for the representative bargaining unit, the American Federation of Teachers. Thus, over the past nearly 25 years, I have gained a broad overview of language instruction issues on the UCSD campus.

The focus of this discussion is WASC Standard 4, namely the way in which the “institution conducts sustained, evidence-based, and participatory discussions about how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving its educational objectives” – Handbook, Page 29. There is ample evidence that our institution as a whole takes this objective quite seriously, in the form of ongoing internal self-assessment and innovative measures at the program, departmental, and campus levels.

At the program level, the various programs across campus are meticulous about soliciting student feedback. Some (e.g. Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies in the Department of History, and the HLP in the Department of Linguistics) make use of the campus-wide student-run Course and Professor Evaluations (CAPE) system for such assessments, others (e.g. IR/PS and the LLP in the Department of Linguistics) use tailor-made in-house assessment measures, and still others (e.g. the Department of Literature) use a combination of the two, depending on language and level taught. This student feedback serves as input to the evaluation of TAs, Unit 18 lecturers, and ladder-rank faculty alike. Across programs, TAs are typically under the supervision of a master TA, an academic coordinator, a faculty member, a program director, or some combination thereof. Unit 18 lecturers, academic coordinators, and ladder-rank faculty are all subject to periodic review for promotion on regular schedules; teaching evaluations figure prominently in the reviews of Unit 18 lecturers especially, but also in the reviews of ladder-rank faculty. These evaluations consist not only of student assessments of instructional effectiveness, but also of classroom observations by ladder-rank faculty and program directors. The provosts of UCSD’s six colleges are mandated with evaluating in depth and in detail the teaching record portion of promotion files. This aspect of the campus review process helps to ensure a high level of quality in foreign language instructional effectiveness on campus.

As for ongoing self-assessment at the departmental level having more to do with instructional content and program development, I am most familiar with and thus most qualified to comment on and provide examples from the Department of Linguistics language programs. I have been witness to numerous developments in the BLP/LLP over the past 25 years, but one common thread that has persisted is an explicit commitment to language instruction not just as an art, but also as a science. As outlined above, when I first entered the LLP as a German TA in 1983, I already had more than ten years of professional ESL and German language teaching, testing, and course design experience under my belt at a number of prestigious institutions, both nationally and internationally. I was nonetheless very favorably impressed upon arriving on campus with both the underlying philosophy and the implementation of basic language instruction on the UCSD campus, as envisioned and shaped by the founder of the Department of Linguistics and the BLP, Dr. Leonard Newmark. Dr. Newmark was a thinker ahead of his time in the 1960s; at the founding of the university, he adopted the Army Language School model from World War II for use in an academic setting. His idea was to separate out instruction in active use of the language from instruction in cognitive knowledge about the language, and sections of the five-day-a-week courses in the BLP were divided accordingly into “conversation” and “analysis” sections, respectively. Dr. Newmark felt that students at UCSD should not only be aided in gaining proficiency in using the target language, but should also acquire a degree of intellectual sophistication in how the language functioned as an ordered system subject to scientific inquiry. For this reason, only Linguistics graduate students were allowed to TA analysis sections. While I myself was able to conduct the bulk of this instruction successfully in German (i.e. such that students could follow and assimilate the instructional content, namely internal principles of linguistic systematicity inherent in German morphology and syntax) in the target language, many of my graduate student colleagues were not in this position. In such cases, Dr. Newmark felt that instruction in English was acceptable (but only in the analysis sections, never in the conversation sections) in order to support the intended linguistic content of the course.

A modified version of this overall approach was adopted when the Chinese and Japanese Studies Programs were established in the Department of History; these programs alternate lecture classes with sections. The director of the Japanese Language Program within the Japanese Studies Program, and also of the IR/PS Language Program, Dr. Yasu-Hiko Tohsaku, is a graduate of the UCSD Department of Linguistics, and was trained as a graduate student Spanish TA in the BLP under Dr. Newmark. 

When Dr. Newmark retired, Dr. Terrence Terrell, perhaps the foremost foreign language pedagogue of the time, was hired to replace him as LLP director. Dr. Terrell felt strongly that the value of consistent input in the target language to student learners outweighed the desideratum of conveying scientific knowledge of the internal workings of the target language system. As a result, analysis sections were from that point on, to this day, conducted strictly and solely in the target language; this policy was continued by UCSD emeritus Sanford Schane when he assumed the directorship of the LLP after Dr. Terrell’s untimely passing.

When Dr. Schane retired, Dr. Grant Goodall, another graduate of the UCSD Department of Linguistics trained as a Spanish TA in Newmark’s original system, was hired to take over directorship of the LLP. One of the desiderata on the part of the Linguistics faculty in filling this position was to appoint someone who would develop and expand the curriculum of the LLP, particularly with a view to its linguistic content. Over the past few years, Dr. Goodall has laboriously and ingeniously devised means of providing both consistent target language input and linguistic content to our student population. He has accomplished this by creating a series of ready-to-use lectures on linguistic topics (i.e. dialect variation in the target language) that can be implemented on a periodic basis in all LLP analysis sections by native and near-native speaker graduate student TAs from any academic discipline with a minimum of training. Moreover, he has worked closely with the LLP academic coordinators of the various languages to develop a number of real-world text-based discovery exercises (most drawn from easily accessible sources on the internet) for the instruction of grammar. This approach thus simultaneously preserves use of the target language as a means of instruction, makes use of actual texts in the target language as the medium of study, and takes advantage of discovery learning procedures to foster active student engagement in deciphering the target language system. We feel this is both a fitting and an effective approach for an institution recognized nationally as the “best school in science”.

A further development within the Department of Linguistics was the establishment of the HLP by Dr. Maria Polinsky, now of Harvard University. The program was motivated from the start by student need and initiative. We started with a formal course offering in Armenian (2001), followed by similar classes for heritage speakers of Tagalog/Filipino (2002), Vietnamese and Korean (2003), Persian (2004), and Arabic (2005). In the years before enrollments justified regular university funding for these courses, the department worked closely with student organizations (most notably the Vietnamese Student Association and Kaibigang Pilipino, the Filipino Students Association) to conduct outreach efforts, including highly successful student-organized fund-raisers in the local communities, which responded with overwhelmingly generous support. Now that the HLP is securely supported by its own budget line in the Division of Social Sciences funding budget, the focus of the HLP has shifted to improving the content and administrative structure of the program: we have successfully incorporated the Interagency Language Roundtable (federal) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) guidelines in the program as a common standard used across all the HLP languages for diagnostic placement, advancement, and assessment (many of our instructors are now certified OPI examiners in their respective languages), experimented with adopting the LLP model of conversation and analysis sections for the HLP, and hired one of the instructors as an academic coordinator to oversee the day-to-day operation of the program, again on the LLP model. We are currently focusing on increasing the availability and flexibility of HLP course offerings, as well as campus awareness of the program among students and staff, especially the college advising offices.

Finally, at the campus level, a proposal for comprehensive review of campus language policy, in view of the diverse campus profile of foreign language offerings, was first put forth in December 2001. A joint Academic Senate Faculty and Administration Advisory Committee on Language Instruction was formed in 2003-2004 to conduct a thorough investigation of language instruction practice on the UCSD campus, canvassing and interviewing all relevant campus constituents and bringing in outside experts to assess and evaluate instructional practice, effectiveness, and administrative structure. This investigation continued during the academic year 2004-2005, and its recommendations were made public in October 2006. These are summarized in the introduction to this section above under “Proposed Actions”. This massive undertaking provides strong testament to the commitment of the university to the integrated delivery of foreign language instruction on campus, while at the same time preserving the unique advantages of diverse and multi-pronged approaches to language instruction currently available at UCSD.

Undergraduate Program Review:


A major theme and set of concerns and recommendations that arose from the last reaffirmation cycle centered on UCSD’s system of undergraduate program review. The issues identified included the manner in which the reviews were conducted, the use of data systems as part of the review process, concerns with student learning as part of the “output” side of the equation, and the feedback mechanisms that would lead to improvement of undergraduate programs as a consequence of program reviews. UCSD took these issues seriously. A task force convened jointly by the Senior Vice Chancellor and the Academic Senate in 2002-03 was charged with reviewing undergraduate and graduate program review processes, and in May 2004, the task force issued its comprehensive report. (A copy of this report is provided in Appendix 7, and the self-study guidelines for each undergraduate program may be seen in Appendix 8.) Immediately after release of the report, UCSD began a consultative process with the Academic Senate, particularly with the Committee on Educational Policy, the body responsible for conducting undergraduate program reviews, to consider and implement recommendations made by the task force. Substantial progress has been made in implementing the revised program review guidelines. Currently, one major program (Human Development) and three minor programs (Contemporary Black Arts, Law and Society, and Space Sciences and Engineering) are being reviewed using the new model, and a full-time staff position has been created to coordinate future review efforts. Many of the recommendations found in the WASC review have been implemented. For example, the mandatory review process to be conducted by academic units will focus on the grid of educational outcome expectations and methods of fulfillment of those expectations. The focus of this self-study will be a full and neutral assessment of the effectiveness of the new undergraduate review process in achieving the goals for which it was created.

Proposed Actions

A self-study team led by and including the Senate-Administration Advisory Committee will be appointed to design and conduct an outcome evaluation of the newly implemented program review system. The self-study team will seek input from all of the groups that participate in the new review process, including the members of the Academic Senate committee responsible for the conduct of the program review, the members of the review teams, the departments that will have participated in the revised review system, and administrators responsible for helping departments implement recommendations. Each year we anticipate that the committee will review four majors, several minors, and at least one “cross-cutting,” non-degree program. (The Academic Internship Program is an example of a non-degree program that is subject to review.) In addition, the committee will have at its disposal the self-studies generated by the departments, the reports produced by the review teams in response to the self-studies and campus visits, the actions recommended by the Academic Senate in response to the reviews, and the department reports of actions taken in response to the review, which follow one year after the Academic Senate action recommendations are received. These reports detail the actions that departments have taken in response to Academic Senate recommendations. The self-study team will have access to program review documents that preceded the implementation of the new process in order to be able to make comparative judgments. The self-study team will focus its attention on three issues:

  • the degree to which the departments and programs have specified realistic, credible learning objectives and the ways in which those objectives are reflected in students’ demonstrated competencies,
  • the unit’s sensitivity and responsiveness to issues of diversity as reflected in their self-studies, and
  • the degree to which the units address issues of student retention and graduation rates with specific emphasis on their efforts to collaborate with the colleges and student support programs, such as Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) and the Academic Enrichment Program.

Undergraduate Program Review from a Faculty Perspective:

Academic Year 2007-08 is my 24th as a faculty member of UCSD. During that time I have been a part of many undergraduate program (aka department) reviews, and in a variety of capacities. My first experience with a review was that of a new instructor. Information about my courses was requested by my department – all syllabi and exams were to be submitted to the Academic Senate as part of the review. At the time I felt both pleasure (finally, someone other than my students would read about my teaching philosophy, and appreciate the time and effort I took in composing my course work!), and anxious (oh-oh, someone other than my students would judge my teaching philosophy and course materials!). I recall little else about that first review, except that no feedback was received at the instructor level. I wondered what happened and whether my small piece had any importance to the review.

Some years later, as Vice Chair for Education in my department, I was the person coordinating the internal efforts to provide input for the review. I wrote the first draft of the self-statement, and I collected all the course syllabi. Now I saw that I was not unique in my earlier experience of feeling both pleasure and anxiety. Suddenly I was the recipient of phone calls from distinguished senior professors and temporary lecturers alike, all concerned about what I or the review committee was going to do with their course materials? A hint (or more) of their nervousness was apparent. I told them frankly that I didn’t know for sure, but doubted that any committee would look over (much less, judge) syllabi for more than 120 courses. 

I wondered myself about the scope of the review, but was so busy preparing for it that I didn’t think much about the bigger picture. Why were we doing these reviews, and why did they feel more like an audit than an opportunity to showcase our work? Were courses the only thing that the review committee was concerned with?

Most recently my involvement in review of an undergraduate program came as a result of my service in the Academic Senate on the Committee for Educational Policy (CEP). Now I was on the opposite side of the review “fence”. I was assigned to chair the first review committee that would use a new process for assessing departments and programs. This vastly improved process now included one external reviewer from another UC campus, and no longer required the assembly of course syllabi and exams. The focus of the review had broadened. Now we want departments to reflect on: their role at our institution; how they serve the students in the major as well as those taking courses as part of their general education; how they advise and prepare students for post-college careers or education; and how they monitor and measure the success of their work. There has been a shift from the old judgmental view to one of collaboration, an emphasis on the department showing that they can educate students both in depth and breadth.

The university is well served by this shift, and I see evidence of progress stemming from the new system, and percolating through the many layers. The value to the department/program comes largely from the self-reflection required at the start of the review. They (the department) must look beyond the piecemeal, day-to-day operations, or even year-to-year operations, to revisit their motivations and projections in the face of current information. Being forced by your peers to look at your mission and how that is being met, is not an empty exercise. Why are certain courses required? As we add classes in new or developing sub-fields, have we assessed whether the older ones are still important to have in the curriculum? Who are our students and for what are we preparing them?

Some disciplines have professional organizations that oversee accreditation in the field. This means the faculty in those areas are already responding on a regular basis to the types of questions given above. But many of our academic disciplines have no such external standards or guidelines. It is, therefore, the campus review system (as well as regional accreditation associations) that provides the impetus for self-examination.

The faculty who are carrying out the review are from closely related departments. They benefit from understanding the current status of a program and the reasoning that underlies the curricular thrusts. Likewise, the dean of the division benefits from hearing the external perspective on his/her programs. In my recent role as chair of a review committee I learned a tremendous amount about a program with which I had never previously interacted. This in turn gave me a new vantage point on an entire division of the campus that I was able to convey to the CEP. The external reviewers gain a view of another University of California campus, and another department in a similar field as their own.

The University of California has a wonderful system of shared governance among the Regents, the administration, and the faculty. The Academic Senate is delegated the authority by the Regents for curricular issues. Through program reviews the Senate carries out a portion of this function. 

Information Literacy


Unlike the first three areas of self-study that focus on understanding and assessing the efficacy of innovations that have been or will be implemented by the university, the fourth area of self-study, information literacy, is a developmental inquiry. The nature of information delivery and its use has changed in dramatic ways in the last twenty years. Indeed, a major theme that permeated our last reaffirmation activities centered on the delivery and use of electronically generated information and our use of electronic data in planning, budgeting, and assessment. Similarly, the sources and types of information used by students have changed dramatically. They no longer only get information through textbooks, journals, class handouts, library collections, and other materials carefully vetted by faculty and professional staff. Instead, students today far more often obtain information as “free agents.” They have easy access to electronic information from home, residence halls, and libraries. Some of this information is reliably vetted, and some is of questionable origin and value. Instructional materials are now provided to students in a variety of ways, e.g., map rooms, slide presentations in art history, group listening of auditory samples in music theory courses, and headset listening in language laboratories. This theme focuses on the development of a principled study that will lead to an institutional understanding of the degree to which it can responsibly address these changes in information technology and its pedagogical applications and consequences. The proposed inquiry, formulated under the direction of the University Librarian as a member of the WASC Executive Steering Committee, will emphasize three primary issues:  

  • “e-stores,”
  • class management and information systems, and
  • the vetting of information sources.

The first of these, “e-stores,” is concerned with the degree and manner by which the university has provided high quality, reviewed materials accessed through electronic means, e.g., maps, journals, art, and primary source data sets. The second, class management and information systems, investigates the degree to which the university has provided tools, though the electronic media, for the management and improvement of class-based instruction. The third, and perhaps most important and most difficult, addresses the vetting of information by focusing on critically important student-learning outcomes. The following questions will be the focus of this component of inquiry:  

  • Are students instructed in how to critically review information from electronic sources?
  • Are students able to detect bias in information?
  • Should there be a unit with responsibility for teaching students how to use information from electronic sources in a critical and ethical manner, or should this be a shared responsibility of all academic programs?
  • Should such instruction be embedded in general education requirements?
  • Are vetting processes homogeneous, or are they discipline specific?

Proposed Actions

We anticipate that this study will result in a series of conversations, inquiries, and a written report with recommendations that will serve as the basis for the development of an action plan. An outline of preliminary findings will be available at the time of the Capacity and Preparatory Review. By the time of the Educational Effectiveness Review, a fully articulated report and action plan will be available to the University community and reviewers. At least one reflective essay will be written in response.

Information Literacy from the faculty perspective:

A university has three major missions: 1) the creation of new knowledge through research, 2) the teaching and dissemination of old and new knowledge to a younger generation (and in the form of advanced knowledge/continuing education to a growing community beyond the campus), and 3) the transition of this knowledge as a driver of positive change for the scientific, technological, cultural and socio-economic prosperity of the community, region, and nation. Traditional teaching at the undergraduate level has involved seminars, laboratories, studios and lectures, complemented by text books and lecture notes. For specialized knowledge in support of teaching and research, libraries have assumed a central function, but the management of information storage and retrieval has undergone a revolution in the past decade, the end of which is not yet in sight.

With the explosion of information in all areas of the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and technology, it has become clear that we must find new means to cope with the volume and diversity of information that is now available, and to also take advantage of technological advances that enable knowledge to be transmitted using multi-media formats thus diminishing the prior necessity of geographical co-location of individuals and the material being studied. For the purposes of this report we consider the subject of “information literacy” to include several goals, opportunities, and challenges.

There is an inherent tension between providing students with a broad-based education aimed at developing abilities for critical thinking and life-long learning, and preparing them to qualify immediately for a highly specialized job. The ready availability of information and the myriad means of both presenting and accessing it can ameliorate this tension However, it also raises the challenge of ensuring that our students are “information literate” and able not only to access the information, but to also discriminate between “good” (i.e., validated) information and mere text, and to understand it. UCSD places tremendous importance on ensuring that students not only have access to the information but also realize the power of knowledge and the necessity of distinguishing between types of information. In this context, information literacy can be defined as the ability not only to recognize that a set (or sets) of information is (are) needed but also to possess the means to access and evaluate it for validity. This necessitates the inculcation of basic skills embedded in routine course work to enable students to (a) determine the type and extent of information needed, (b) recognize the different avenues of accessing the information, (c) determine the validity of the information in the context of the subject under consideration, (d) understand the data and integrate it with other information sets, and (e) incorporate the synthesized information into the personal intellectual knowledge base. In addition, this also requires a comprehensive understanding of the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of this information. At UCSD, the college system’s writing programs and core curricula are the primary mechanism for the initial education in information literacy, with higher levels taught in the context of disciplinary specialization.

It is essential to efficiently store information, including not only written text, but also photographs, drawings, paintings, audio and video recordings, as well as results of increasingly complex simulations that serve as databases. The contents of the collection must be searchable and accessible in a convenient format, and available without a significant delay to our students and faculty.

UCSD has made major strides in this arena under the leadership of the university librarian, Brian Schottlaender. UCSD is increasingly viewed as a leader in California and the nation in the Development of a Digital Library with open standards, open sources, and round-the-clock online access. This leadership has been rewarded with substantial funding from private foundations (e.g., Mellon Foundation). As more information in the library becomes digitalized, access to the information becomes more convenient. However, thorny legal and ethical issues (copyright, intellectual property, fair use, privacy, national security, etc.) arise. Schottlaender has played a leading, authoritative, and diplomatic role in negotiations with various publishers and interested parties. The collaborative relationship among the university library, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center has allowed UCSD to become a successful competitor for funds from the U.S. National Science Digital Library Program.

It is also clear to everyone that the Internet has expanded access to information on a global scale, and search engines such as Google make it possible to find relevant (and irrelevant) information in abundance.

Although most undergraduates own personal computers, the university has made computer terminals available in many public places, allowing students to search and retrieve information almost anywhere on campus, at any time. All libraries (Geisel Library, Biomedical Library, Scripps Library, etc.) provide computer terminals for use by registered students. There are banks of computers in the common rooms of the Price Center (student center), and the old Undergraduate Library was converted to a computer-based research center for students, called CLICS (Center for Library and Instructional Computing Services. The campus has provided wireless access to the internet from most classrooms and other locations. Classrooms are equipped with projectors and other hardware to allow instructors to connect their own to enrich their lectures with Power Point and other supporting software, and they can also introduce information directly from the internet into the classroom. All of these operations are now working smoothly with the capable assistance of UCSD Computer Services in the background and as needed. In summary, it appears that no student should be left behind because of limited access to a computer terminal.

However, the impressive strides that the campus has made in increasing connectivity and enhancing information services do not come without challenges that we must address. The students are at risk from information overload, drowning in a sea of trivia, distractions of various kinds (while “taking notes” on laptops during lectures), and an increasingly impersonal transmission of information. A collection of lecture notes, slides, and reference to a few relevant websites made available electronically, followed by an on-line test, do not constitute good teaching, however efficient and cost-effective it may appear. Information made available through electronic means, however comprehensive, can only serve as a supplement to the inherent necessity of interaction between the student and the instructor.

The faculty, in turn, must prioritize, filter (but not censor) information, and help students to find the most reliable and authoritative information. We can only fully assimilate and exploit such information for maximum benefit if we establish a firm foundation in a discipline. In this context, “information literacy” does not refer to the memorization of many details, but rather the understanding of fundamental principles, coupled with a knowledge and critical evaluation of more information and/or data.

A few examples from the experience in teaching biology students (>20% of the students at UCSD), and engineering students (>20% of students at UCSD) can illustrate the possibilities and challenges. Many lectures in biology and engineering courses now include Power Point presentations. Slides are selected from numerous sources, including the textbook. The presentation can switch effortlessly to access large international databases to illustrate/amplify the professor’s lecture. Such data bases include the Human Genome database, the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), the Swiss Protein database, OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, from the National Library of Medicine), and more. An instructor can screen these sites for relevance, correctness, and level of complexity and then direct students to them to use as complements to lecture notes and textbooks. The easy transmission of information makes it possible to bring complex laboratory exercises to the classroom and available to larger groups through simulations that assist in moving the students from their initial, dualistic modes of learning to those based on synthesis and discovery. Technology also allows for the transmission of actual experiments to non-geographically co-located areas. This enables students to explore vast repositories of data in graphical and 3-D form, such as effects of natural disasters like seismic events and tsunamis, and assists them in not only understanding, in real time, the dynamic forces unleashed by such events, but also in developing solutions and strategies to mitigate disasters. The juxtaposition of different levels of information enables students to develop both the “lower order” and “higher order” thinking skills defined by Bloom’s taxonomy.

Reflective Essay: Student Reflections on the WASC Standards

The Seminar on University Accreditation:

The reason for an elaborate (and rather expensive) system of peer-reviewed institutional accreditation is to assure that students receive a high quality, intellectually rigorous education delivered by faculty who are able to speak and study the truth as we see it. Since students are the primary beneficiaries of the accreditation process, it seemed only proper to include them extensively in the reaffirmation process and to assure that their voices are heard. One of the problems in accomplishing this, however, is that the typical student is largely ignorant about the accreditation process. We were, fortunately, able to circumvent this problem and achieve our goals of including the student voice because of an important component of the general education curriculum of Sixth College – our newest undergraduate college. [For more information about Sixth College and its formation, see Appendix A of this report in which we describe UCSD’s responses to WASC recommendations resulting from our last reaffirmation of accreditation cycle.] One element of the General Education requirements of Sixth College is a two-quarter Practicum Requirement that students typically take during their junior and/or senior year.

The Practicum project challenges students to make creative and intellectual contributions to address an authentic problem. Under faculty mentorship, students take responsibility for planning, executing, and reflecting upon their Practicum project and their own capabilities. – Sixth College Website

The Practicum has two components: the first is a four-unit academic/intellectual experience designed to give the student a working knowledge of the aspects of some “authentic Problem” (the Practicum Project). This project may be an independent study course, a specialized seminar, or other devices that satisfy the intellectual requirements for course credit. The second component is a four-unit course, taught by Sixth College, in which the students reflect upon the practicum projects and their intellectual development as a result of participating in the Project. This second course strongly emphasizes the writing skills necessary to communicate effectively the student’s reflections and is, essentially, an upper-division writing course. 

In cooperation with Sixth College, we were able to establish a four-unit Seminar on University Accreditation taught by the UCSD ALO who happens to be a faculty member in Sixth College. The seminar met for ten three-hour sessions (the standard for a four-unit course) and covered the general accreditation process. Students read and discussed the WASC Accreditation Standards and the Accreditation Manual, followed the national debate on accreditation that was at its most intense phase in the quarter during which the seminar was conducted (the debates on the implementation of the Spellings Commission report), and studied in detail each of the four WASC Standards for Accreditation. The seminar then divided into four groups – each considering one of the Standards in detail. Each group had to produce an essay that considered its assigned standard from three perspectives. What does it mean to you (a student) to attend a university guided by the standard? What does it mean to your parents to have a child attending a university guided by the standard? What does it mean to member of the general community (e.g., a potential employer) to employ a student who graduated from a university guided by the standard? Students made oral presentations of their conclusions and submitted written copies of their reflections, which have been folded into the corresponding reflective essays. The words that follow are the words as generated by the students in the Seminar (with only light additional editing for inclusion in this report).

From the student perspective – Commission Standard 1:

The institution defines its purposes and establishes educational objectives aligned with its purposes and character. It has a clear and conscious sense of its essential values and character, its distinctive elements, its place in the higher education community, and its relationship to society at large. Through its purposes and educational objectives, the institution dedicates itself to higher learning, the search for truth, and the dissemination of knowledge. The institution functions with integrity and autonomy.

It is very important to the public, parents, and the higher education community that UCSD produce high quality education. UCSD has become a world leader in research and teaching by ensuring a process of continual attainment of knowledge and implementing it as part of its objectives and goals. The university ensures that its students receive an exceptional education and its faculty creates, disseminates, and teaches knowledge that has given UCSD the excellent reputation it has achieved in our community. The multi-faceted programs UCSD has incorporated into its goals, policies, and objectives greatly help bridge the gap between students, faculty and staff. While the research projects available here provide students with opportunities for hands-on experiences during their college years, UCSD still maintains an extremely high level of commitment to its students. Past accreditations have allowed UCSD to become the leader in the scholastic community of San Diego, while it continues to expand its foundations and strives to raise the level of its academic and research accomplishments daily. We strongly feel that UCSD’s commitment to world-leading research projects serves the interests of the public and the academic community in San Diego through the rigorous application of academic integrity, which in turn extends to national and worldwide arenas.

By instituting a set of rules relating to integrity, UCSD demonstrates publicly that its students, faculty, and staff maintain a high level of creditability, due in large part to institutional adherence to Standard 1. Certain industries prefer to hire graduates from UCSD because of our reputation, which derives from our adherence to policies developed from Standard 1. The unique mission and character of UCSD, especially with regard to the UC system’s mission statement, positions us as a leader of academic and research programs nation-wide, while allowing the institution autonomy from private external forces and entities. UCSD works hard to educate its students according to its own vision, while ensuring that it stays autonomous in relation to its policies and objectives, thus meeting the many requirements set forth by, WASC.

If Standard 1 is not met, the qualities of the education received and research performed at UCSD will be subject to question by the public. It is therefore critical that UCSD continues to ensure this never happens. The integrity of the institution is also at stake if UCSD does not have adequate policies, programs, and guidelines to back it up it statements of commitment. Therefore, UCSD made these guidelines readily available to everyone, with details stated clearly, on its website and in hard copies accessible in its administrative centers. If the public questions the integrity of UCSD, then the creditability of any work done by a UCSD affiliate will be viewed with doubt. It is crucial to the students, faculty, and staff that the institution follows Standard 1. It allows the public to understand what UCSD can offer the community. Prospective students have a better understanding of the high quality of education is offered by UCSD. It is important for the community and the university to have programs that define and support the character of UCSD as Standard 1 demands. Our university is a leader in this realm, with many small business, colleges, universities, and corporations dreaming to obtain the level of professionalism that UCSD has already achieved.

From the Student Perspective – Commission Standard 2:

The institution achieves its institutional purposes and attains its educational objectives through the core functions of teaching and learning, scholarship and creative activity, and support of student learning. It demonstrates that these core functions are performed effectively and that they support one another in the institution’s efforts to attain educational effectiveness.

If you give any student a run down of the four standards of accreditation, chances are that the one they’ll most be interested in is Standard Two. This perhaps has something to do with the fact that of all the standards, Standard Two directly addresses the needs of the students. Things like integrity and fiscal resources are all well and good, but if you want to set a fire under students’ passion to talk about their school, ask them if they’re being properly supported by their university.

This, of course, is what makes Standard Two so important. It’s effectively proving that the University is a great school, not just by applying resources and talking about community relations, but by what it does for the students. It’s the first thing that concerned scholars and parents are going to worry about – what is the University doing for me or my child? Standard Two can be broken down into two key focuses: the close-to home level of what student support there is for the education of scholars, and the real occupational benefits of receiving a baccalaureate degree from an accredited University.

The standard lists computer labs, libraries, financial aid, academic advising, and career counseling as some of the important support resources an accredited school or University ought to have for its students. However, support can be many things, ranging from making sure that tutoring options are available to addressing individual students with special needs. The kinds of support a school provides are important, but what also needs to be factored in is how much support is given. As the secretary of a local elementary school pointed out, a sufficiency of support does not preclude a justifiable desire for more support. Accredited schools without the benefits of a high-level University may have correctly prioritized their students’ resources, but may also not be able to provide support far enough down the list of priorities. The issue, of course, is not simply whether students will have the skills necessary to enter college and graduate; it is whether they will then be equipped for the high-level occupations they desire.

We note that even FedEx Ground has made a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university a requirement for advancement in the company. Interestingly, the degree’s focus is ignored, with FedEx looking instead for qualities that should be common to instruction in any major. There is some debate about priorities. John K. Redhouse, Senior Manager FedEx Ground’s Miramar terminal, with nine years’ experience, acknowledges that some core abilities such as critical analysis and information literacy are essential to the job. Also of particular interest to him was the standard’s goal of “foster[ing] an understanding of diversity,” which is a significant part of FedEx’s hiring policy. He believes, however, that successful advancement finally depends more on work experience and intrinsic interpersonal skills that may not be reflected by the possession of a degree. He laments the loss of potential candidates because of the degree policy, which was put forth by the corporate office, not managers like himself, and he recounts anecdotes of college graduates with degrees such as engineering who turned out to lack relevant skills and ended up being a poor fit. As far as working in the field goes, he remarks, having a degree seems little more than a checkmark in a list of requirements.

On the other hand, Adam S. Twedt, a service manager of three years’ experience, finds that there are general but fundamental ways in which a degree helps. Primarily, he says, a degree serves as an indicator that an individual is capable of commitment and adaptation. Twedt also comments on issues of respect, relating stories in which internal company documents tend to expose those with and those without a college education. He concedes that in the view of his colleagues, experience still takes priority over a college education, but he comments that “experience will only perpetuate experience.” Education and the independent analytic thought that ought to be associated with it are important for innovation.

These thoughts are highly relevant to Standard Two, because they suggest how important it is that students receive the kind of support they need, not only just to “get a degree,” but also to obtain background and experience that will impress future employers. In the absence of this standard, students receive haphazard education, with little experience of what it takes to succeed in a professional context. If a University such as UCSD did not have a standard emphasizing support for learning, scholarship, and creativity, it would not be providing its students with the kind of skills they need for professional work, and eventually would not be providing the community with the people it needs in order to function properly. Certainly, if UCSD did not have and abide by such a standard, it could not continue to be the kind of institution that aspiring high school graduates would want to attend.

From the student perspective – Commission Standard 3:

The institution sustains its operations and supports the achievement of its educational objectives through its investment in human, physical, fiscal, and information resources and through an appropriate and effective set of organizational and decision-making structures. These key resources and organizational structures promote the achievement of institutional purposes and educational objectives and create a high quality environment for learning.

UC San Diego is an institution that invests in society through its students. While its mission statement echoes the words of its founder, Roger Revelle, who wished to serve society with a goal of perpetual excellence, his words are not the only standard that UC San Diego holds itself to. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has set in place four standards which it feels are necessary to satisfy this goal of excellence. Standard 3 works to ensure an institution’s sustainability through the development and application of its faculty and staff, its fiscal, physical, and information resources as well as its organizational structures and decision-making processes. But does the fact that this standard is – along with the other three –satisfied by UC San Diego have a real impact on us as students? By examining the point of view of three main groups; our parents, members of the larger San Diego community, and ourselves as students, we will attempt to answer this question.

In education, as in all divisions of society, the most tangible and most vital resource at an institution is the group of persons present within it. For an entity to undergo continued development and growth it must not only attract individuals who possess the skills consistent with its institutional and educational goals, it must create a high quality environment that fosters the growth and development of those individuals. While this has always been an innate quality of UC San Diego, Standard 3 ensures the sustained growth of the university. As students, we rely on the university to provide a learning environment that will foster the growth of skills that will serve us well in our prescribed career paths. If UC San Diego was unable to do so we would not only worry about the quality of our education, but ultimately we would worry about the quality of our futures. In speaking with our parents, they feel it is important that UC San Diego is accredited as they then know it is following the required curriculum for an approved college degree. Also, by being accredited they know the standards are set in place and continually checked on a regular basis. They believe strongly that all aspects of the college from the courses offered to the professors’ qualifications have to meet the set standards.

Moreover, as advancements in technology and infrastructure continue to shape the work of business and society in general, it is imperative that UC San Diego be willing to invest in changes that not only mirror these advancements but help to shape them. As students, we feel that investment in new infrastructure is a direct investment in our education and future. These include physical resources, from buildings to current technologies that professors may need in classrooms. We also believe that having access to computers, libraries, databases, various publications, and other resources is essential to enhance our education. The availability of these resources is influential in convincing our parents to support us at UC San Diego. The community often judges the caliber of an institution by viewing the institution’s available resources to their students. In speaking to community members, they mirror the opinions of our parents and us and feel that failure to have the necessary resources available – along with continued development of those resources – would result in a drop in the caliber of student that UC San Diego is able to develop.

The fiscal resources that the university provides for its students is at the foundation for providing students a high level of education. Continued funding must be provided for the students so that they are able to receive the high level of education the university provides, without the burden of debt. The community, parents, and students would believe the university is failing if the quality of education provided was limited by a lack of financial support.

Standard 3 also emphasizes the importance of having an organizational and decision-making structure within an institution. This is important within any educational institution to ensure that all different levels of the organization are managed appropriately. In an educational institution that offers various degrees, it is important to have an organizational structure that will maintain the high caliber of education provided by the institution. It is equally important that the people responsible within the organizational structure have the resources to promote and enhance the educational objectives and the environment of the individual institution. If this did not occur then the institution would surely flounder, as an institution can only be as good as its leadership. If the institution was not willing to change with its time, then it would fail in the eyes of the students and even more importantly in the eyes of the community.

Ultimately, a consensus was reached among the groups that a standard that promotes sustainable growth and excellence is a fundamental quality that is found in all institutions that pride themselves in success, and the degree to which this standard is present is an excellent indicator of an institution’s ability to fulfill its prescribed objectives. It is this quality that helps attract students of excellence to UC San Diego. It is a quality that appeases parents in their decision to support their children at UC San Diego. And it is one of the distinguished qualities that makes UC San Diego graduates attractive to employers.

From the Student Perspective – Commission Standard 4:

The institution conducts sustained, evidence-based, and participatory discussions about how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving tits educational objectives. These activities inform both institutional planning and systematic evaluations of educational effectiveness. The results of institutional inquiry, research, and data collection are used to establish priorities at different levels of the institution, and to revise institutional purposes, structures, and approaches to teaching, learning, and scholarly work.

An accredited university’s compliance with Standard 4 is important to students, parents, graduates, and the surrounding job market. The criterion focuses on an institution’s commitment to learning, and strategic development. Compliance with this standard secures a university’s reputation and reflects an essential ability to adapt to a continuously evolving world market. Without meeting this requirement, it is clear that any academic institution would be significantly impaired.

Through a variety of evaluations, polls, and surveys, our university devotes copious amounts of energy and resources to the collection of information from a wide range of its constituents. The student population is the primary object of this attention, and the university holds their opinions in the highest regard. This constant data collection is a crucial element of student satisfaction. It is a form of communication that keeps the university’s administration synchronized with the students’ needs, and aware of their critiques. Products are made to fit their consumers, and similarly, schools should be built to fit their students. The university should, according to Standard 4, react to this criticism, and use it as a guide to continuously and effectively improve itself. Without an informed idea of what the students need, this continuous and effective action would be extremely difficult for a university to achieve.

An absence of student guidance would make pivotal and expensive developmental decisions extremely ill-informed and much less effective, thereby stifling the school’s appeal to the public and severely tarnishing its reputation. Since the university’s ability to provide a quality education is dependent upon matriculation rates and the revenue they generate, a drop in public appeal would translate into a drop in the quality of education. 

The deterioration of a university’s reputation matters to many different people. It matters not only to the student, but also to the surrounding community. From the perspective of employers, the reputed quality of a degree is a primary tool in assessing a potential employee’s ability to perform in a professional situation. It almost goes without saying that fluctuations in a school’s reputation can have particularly powerful effects on the well being of a recent graduate. The parents, students, and employers whom we surveyed all seemed to agree that, from salary to dinner conversations, one’s alma mater has always been a deep symbol of personal pride and overall success.

Standard 4 also mentions that the school’s leadership should act strategically and in-step with the goal of self-evaluation. It is important that decisions be made strategically because the world is constantly changing. In football, the quarterback must throw the ball to where the receiver WILL be, instead of where he is.

The general consensus from a broad range of surveyed individuals seemed to be that without careful self-evaluation and information from a wide range of perspectives, a university could easily deprive itself of valuable input and direction. Without an ability and intent to adapt, such an institution would fall behind the educational curve, eventually finding itself in an ill-equipped position from which to educate people.

Concluding Essay

Core Commitment to Institutional Capacity: The institution functions with clear purpose, high levels of institutional integrity, fiscal stability, and organizational structures and processes to fulfill its purposes. - WASC Handbook of Accreditation, page 41.

How does one make the institution’s case that it satisfies the Core Commitment to Institutional Capacity? Undoubtedly there are many ways to approach this. We could point to our Institutional Portfolio and note that there is mapping from each of the 42 CFR’s identified by WASC as the Criteria For Review to multiple policies, procedures, and reports that constitute the operational processes of UCSD. We could turn to the four Special Projects that will serve as the basis of our EE review and note that each of them addresses, at least in part, components of the Core Commitment to Institutional Capacity. We could similarly refer to the history of the institution’s accreditation and note that ten years ago we demonstrated our commitment to capacity and in the intervening years we have grown and strengthened the institution. (See the data table previous in this report.) Further, we could note that in the last five years, with one exception, all of the senior management officers of the institution (Chancellor, seven Vice Chancellors (Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Health Affairs, Resource Management and Planning, Research, Marine Sciences, and External Relations), and four of the five Divisional Deans (Arts & Humanities, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Social Sciences) and five of the six College Provosts (Revelle, Muir, Marshall, Warren, and Sixth) have changed and yet our operation, our educational programs and our research endeavors, have continued without the significant perturbation – certainly evidence that our purpose is clear, our integrity is great, our finances are stable (albeit not luxurious), and our organizational structures and processes are secure and able to withstand major changes. 

However, we feel the clearest and best case arises from an examination of the behavior of the institution as it engages in its major and consequential undertakings – the kind that require long-term commitments, involve the expenditure of significant assets, and involve the collaboration of multiple units of the institution. At the end of our last reaffirmation of accreditation the review team and the Commission noted several areas, despite the overall positive conclusions reached, to which they felt the institution should attend. Those issues and the institutional response to them are discussed at some length in Appendix A. While any of the activities described in Appendix A could be used as an example of the Core Commitment to Capacity, perhaps the complex response of the University to the transfer student issue makes the point best. The overall approach to issues of transfer students was massive and multiple collaborative groups participated (including task forces focusing upon both Student Affairs and Academic Affairs elements). The most dramatic single item in the institution’s response to transfer student issues is the creation of a new North Campus Housing Project (See Appendix A) that will allow new transfer students the opportunity to live on campus and to become full members of the academic community. This project requires the commitment of a major portion of the institution’s capital indebtedness. Other deserving projects had to be deferred in order to address this vial undergraduate need. The ability to move forward a project of this size that focuses on the quality of the undergraduate experience, despite compelling demands for other initiatives, clearly reflects the efforts of an institution “with clear purpose, high levels of institutional integrity, fiscal stability, and organizational structures and processes to fulfill its purposes” – Handbook, page 41.

Preparedness for Proceeding to the Educational Effectiveness Review

Among the topics to be addressed in this concluding essay is “a commentary on the institution’s preparedness for undertaking the Educational Effectiveness (EE) Review.” Perhaps the most direct way of demonstrating our preparedness is simply to present the timelines for each of our four areas of self-inquiry that will form the heart of the EE Review. All four areas of inquiry are on a time line that will allow the full examination of the issues we identified in the institutional proposal. We will be able to present the results of our examination to the EE Review team at the point of their visit. The processes allow us to add to our Data Portfolio in an on-going manner that allows continuous viewing in real time, rather than awaiting a “public release” timed for the EE Review. Each of the inquiries involves a wide range of participants, including administrators and students and, most extensively, the faculty of the University of California, San Diego.

Timelines for the four areas of self study:

Entry-level and Freshman Writing: 

This project is well underway and by the time of the EE Review should be complete. We obtained writing portfolios from 240 freshmen enrolled in our writing programs (just under 5% of entering freshmen). Each portfolio consisted of four writing samples that students submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the writing courses in which they were enrolled. The samples were submitted toward the beginning and end of each of the first two quarters of the mandatory writing experience at UCSD. Two faculty members, who are not themselves involved in the instruction of freshman writing, independently read each. Faculty rated each writing sample using the system-wide UC scale for rating entry-level writing (sometimes referred to as the “Subject A” rating scale). In addition, faculty readers assigned a letter grade from A through F to each portfolio as a whole. Finally, each reader evaluated the portfolio on perceived improvement in writing. Reports from this data collection and evaluation system were presented to an ad hoc faculty committee that reported its conclusion to a standing committee of the faculty – the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP, which was initially involved in the design of the inquiry). Extensive comments on the report and its conclusions have been received from the Colleges, the Writing Program Directors, and others closely involved in the process. Discussions are now taking place among Academic Senate committees, Writing Program Directors, and administrators.

A parallel study involving 80 students, beginning with entry-level writing, was completed and will be submitted to the standing committee of the faculty that is responsible for overseeing the entry-level writing programs – the Committee on Preparatory Education (COPE). By the time of the Educational Effectiveness Report and Visit, COPE will have had the opportunity to reflect on the empirical study of the entry-level writing programs.

The entire inquiry will be available to the EE Reviewers through our Institutional Portfolio. Included in the evidence base will be the results of the two empirical inquires – i.e., the two reports; copies of all instructions to raters and of the rating scales; reports of the faculty groups that reviewed the programs; the commentaries supplied to the faculty committees, and any further actions taken by the responsible committees of the faculty.

Delivery of Foreign Language Instruction:

At the time of the EE Review, reviewers (and the institution itself) should be able to understand the “processes of disseminating, evaluating, and implementing” the recommendations of the Faculty/Administrative Advisory Committee on Foreign Language. The committee has issued its report and Academic Senate committees governing those areas likely to be involved in its implementation (e.g. Committee on Educational Policy, Graduate Council, Budget and Planning) have been called upon to comment on the report. The recommendations in the report and the comments of the Senate will be made available to the Senior Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs for action. 

At the time of the EE Report and Review, the report of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Language, the comments of the Senate committees, the recommendations of the Senate Council, and any actions taken by the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will be available for review through our Data Portfolio.

Undergraduate Program Review:

Of the four areas selected for self study, the inquiry on undergraduate program review is the most advanced. A Senate/Administrative Task Force submitted a report on Undergraduate Program Review. A new system of undergraduate program review (which includes review not only of departmentally- based majors but also of interdisciplinary majors such as Human Development and the general education curricular components of the colleges ) was implemented for several units or departments: Human Development, Academic Internship Program, Anthropology, Sociology, History, the Division of Biological Sciences, Revelle College, Critical Gender Studies, and Philosophy. 

In addition, the University continues to explore ways to approach the assessment of Learning Outcomes. Our undergraduate program reviews now include the completion of the WASC Learning Outcomes grid (WASC data elements 7.1 and 8.1), but still rely to some extent on other evaluation methods, such as our student course evaluation system (CAPE). We are actively examining the features of evaluation systems such as CAPE and have published a number of studies of that system. In addition, the UCSD ALO has been an active member of a group exploring discipline-based approaches to the assessment of Learning Outcomes. 

At the time of the EE Review, extensive data will be available for inspection through our Data Portfolio. Data items relevant to this area of self study will include the Senate/Administrative Task Force on Undergraduate Program Review report, as well as detailed materials on many of the reviews that have already been conducted. These materials will allow reviewers to understand how the process works and how we reach conclusions. One important feature of our system that can be seen in these data displays is the way that information from many different sources is gathered and made available to our academic units so that they can conduct their self-studies fully informed by empirical evidence – i.e., the culture of evidence approach.

Information Literacy:

Our proposed inquiry on information literacy is the newest of our inquires, and while we have given considerable thought to identifying the problems we are encountering in this domain we are only now at the point of formally constituting a Senate/Administrative task force. At the time of the EE Review, this task force will have issued its report (available to the Review Team) and begun the early aspects of its implementation. By the time of the C&PR visit, the task force will have begun its inquiry and will be available to the Visiting Committee if they deem such a visit desirable– as was envisioned in the original proposal – page 11