SFU’s 11 deans were the driving force behind a planning retreat in April to discuss SFU’s current three-year academic plan (see pp.2-3). Back row, from left: Kris Magnusson, Daniel Shapiro, Wade Parkhouse, John O’Neil and Nimal Rajapakse. Front row, from left: Cheryl Geisler, John Craig, Helen Wussow, Claire Cupples, Charles Eckman and John Pierce.

Taking Stock

June 23, 2011

Welcome to the second issue of ViewPointAcademic, a newsletter produced by the office of the Vice President Academic (VPA) to keep members of the Simon Fraser University community abreast of current and future VPA initiatives.

This issue again focuses on two major VPA undertakings that will have signifi cant impact on the university and its stakeholders in the years ahead: the 2010–13 academic plan and the accreditation project.

SFU is in the midst of applying for institutional accreditation with the U.S.-based Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a certifi cation process for which there is no equivalent in Canada.

The process is focused on SFU’s mission fulfillment, with an emphasis on how all its organizational units contribute collectively to the core themes of the university’s mission, rather than looking at individual units separately.

To help evaluate whether post-secondary institutions are achieving their mission, the NWCCU requires them to identify the core themes through which they carry out their mission. SFU identified four core themes that closely align with themes in the academic plan: Teaching and Learning, Research, Student Experience and Success, and Community and Citizenship.

To facilitate the accreditation process and help the university units that fall within his portfolio implement the academic plan, VPA Jon Driver struck five teams last summer—one for each self-evaluation theme plus a fifth, Financial Sustainability and Institutional Strength team. The fifth team’s work will be interwoven into the other four teams’ work on both the accreditation project and the academic plan.

The first stage of the process will result in a five-chapter selfevaluation report being submitted to the NWCCU by early August 2011. You will find a brief report card on the self-evaluation results in this issue (p.1). And follow the instructions on how to access an advanced draft of the full document (p.1), which will be posted online for review by the SFU community on June 27.

An NWCCU evaluation team will visit SFU this fall to assess how the university applies its resources and capacities toward mission fulfi llment, as indicated in the self-evaluation document.

While here, the team will meet with senior administrators and host open forums for faculty, staff, students and other community members. This issue of ViewPointAcademic features an interview with Jon Driver (p.4) on the progress being made on both the accreditation project and the academic plan.

It also features a photo essay (pp.2-3) on the deans’ planning retreat in April, at which both initiatives were top of mind.

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After a seven year, comprehensive and rigorous process, SFU is the first Canadian research university to be granted accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).  

View the Report on course-based experiential education across all SFU Faculties

View the 2013-2018 Academic Plan

View the Revised Report on Learning Outcomes and Assessment