WASC Special Visit Update
Hope International University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and programmatically accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Accreditation (ABHE) and by the Commission for the Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
The accreditation process is ongoing and consists of periodic reviews. HIU’s most recent comprehensive review by WASC was completed in 2008 and the Commission acted to reaffirm the University’s accreditation with the next full review scheduled for 2016.
Over the past five years HIU has explored the possibility of relocating the main campus in Fullerton to another site in Orange County. While this may have provided opportunity to expand athletic facilities such as a soccer field, baseball field, etc. the Board of Trustees concluded in 2010 that the campus would remain in Fullerton and collaborate with the City in the re-development of the area immediately surrounding the campus. This project is known as “CollegeTown” and additional information can be found at www.collegetownfullerton.com. The Trustees also determined the University should focus on expanding our online and graduate programs while maintaining a quality residential experience for up to 500 traditional undergraduate students on the campus in Fullerton. Renovations have begun and a capital campaign is underway to upgrade the facilities on the main campus. During this time of strategic planning with respect to campus development, the University also re-structured into five colleges to provide students with greater flexibility in their academic programs.
The decision for the main campus to remain in Fullerton and to restructure into five colleges within the University served as the catalyst for a number of positive results. In 2011-12 HIU had the highest enrollment in its 83 year history, received the largest amount ever of general fund giving, and was named by US News and World Report as one of the top 25 colleges in the Western Region of the U.S.
Organizational change is not without challenges and during the five year period of planning for the future, the Recession had a financial impact on enrollment and giving during the years of 2008-10. The WASC accrediting association closely monitors member colleges and universities progress to ensure they remain financial sound and provide quality educational programs. In light of the changes that were taking place at HIU, WASC scheduled a Special Visit based on the University’s Interim Report from the years 2010-11. The Visiting Team of five educators from other WASC schools prepared a report that contained the following commendations and recommendations.
- The team commends the Hope International University leadership for its change in approach to strategic development and planning. The development of its Strategic Plan 2012-17 and the supporting area Master Plans have moved HIU from opportunistic, and often externally generated, considerations of its future course to the development of intentional strategic initiatives and tactical actions that have been developed by HIU stakeholders.
- The team commends HIU for the progress it has made toward financial stability. It applauds the leadership for its understanding of the seriousness of the current financial situation; the acknowledgement that the turnaround is fragile, and for its commitment to continue to implement the decisions required to achieve fiscal sustainability.
- The team commends HIU for the progress it has made in the development and dissemination of business and financial reports and encourages Hope to continue to broaden the development and use of such reports.
- The team commends HIU for its focus on retention and student service and in particular, the Student Success Team, the Academic Coaching initiative, and the personal approach to serving students such as the We Care program.
- The team commends Hope for its enrollment initiatives and its aligned approach to the implementation of branding and marketing campaigns which that are cohesive and communicate more clearly the distinctiveness of the institution.
- The team commends the HIU faculty for their continuing commitment to the institution in this time of transition, and for their dedication to supporting the mission of the university.
- The team recommends a continued focus on improving financial stability through a focus on enrollment management and disciplined budgeting sufficient to eliminate debt, generate reserves, and ensure long-term viability.
- The team recommends that the governance structure and the composition of the Board of Trustees be strengthened.
- The team recommends that the HIU Board and the President engage a recognized provider of board development services, such as the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), and engage a board development consultant, participate in appropriate workshops and conferences, and attend joint development opportunities such as the Institute for Board Chairs and Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.
- The team recommends that as positions are created or openings occur HIU continue to recruit to its administrative and management ranks individuals with professional qualifications and experience in higher education.
- The team recommends that HIU increase its institutional research and assessment capacity consistent with its growth, strategic planning and accreditation objectives.
- The team recommends that HIU delay progress toward the development of doctoral programs until such time as it demonstrates consistent positive financial performance in its core programs year over year. Further, the team recommends that the institution begin a process of study and analysis of the implications of the structural change that would be required to become a doctoral degree-granting institution.
- The team recommends that HIU broaden beyond the CCCU, the group of institutions against which it benchmarks itself and include institutions of similar size, and scope within the WASC region.
The WASC Commission reviewed the report submitted by the Visiting Team and issued a warning to the University that specific areas needed to be addressed to strengthen the institution, and scheduled a follow up visit to take place in two years to evaluate the University’s progress. The team recommendations have already been implemented at HIU with positive results such as:
- An increase in the retention and graduation rates to the national average of schools with our selectivity
- A record incoming class of new traditional students in the fall of 2012
- Improved financial strength with good key financial ratios and scores