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Doing very well ... striving to do even betterB Y L O R E N J . A N D E R S O N , P L U P R E S I D E N T
In 1890 the founders of Pacific Lutheran University opened an academy but called it a university 70 years later, in 1960, their vision became reality. They also set out to build a beautiful, five-story schoolhouse, now called Harstad Hall 50 years later, in 1940, it was completed.
Doing very wellEach decade, every university's accreditation is reviewed. In April, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges conducted a three-day intensive visit at PLU with an 11-member team of higher education professionals from other colleges and universities across the country. Our preparation for their visit spanned two years and entailed an in-depth self-study by every department and division of the university.
The site visitors logged several hundred hours of interviews and reviewed numerous campus documents in their evaluation of PLU. The news is very good!
Our students are more satisfied with PLU compared to their peers at other institutions. And, if they had to do it over, they would again choose PLU as their college. Eightynine percent plan to graduate from this university. PLU students gave high ratings on important dimensions that reflect the core of our mission:
Striving to do even betterThe accreditation review and the Student Satisfaction Survey provide overwhelming affirmation for PLU's mission, program and people. But PLU is not perfect, and so these assessments also point to areas needing improvement.
The accreditation report urges us to ensure that our methods of measuring institutional effectiveness more clearly reflect the university's distinctive mission and goals. The team also suggested development of faculty evaluation policies that are consistent campuswide. In addition, they recommended allocating sufficient funds for computer software transitions and other implementations of new technology.
The Student Satisfaction Survey highlights several opportunities: continuing our efforts to increase campus safety and security; developing more effective faculty advising methods that address students' changing needs as they progress toward graduation; and expediting the financial aid awarding process to facilitate student planning. These suggestions reinforce our own observations and will help us build our agenda for the near future.
The important point, of course, is that these regular assessments fuel and energize our larger efforts. They encourage us to retain the boldness of vision that marked PLU's founding as we strive...