How Western Washington University is Preparing for AACSB Accreditation

A faculty activity reporting solution can not only transform the way you leverage your faculty’s activities and accomplishments; it can also play a pivotal role in the accreditation process. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation is instrumental for business schools to attract the best students and faculty—but the process can be long, complicated and demanding of faculty and staff.

When it came time to prep for their reaccreditation, Western Washington University (Western) evaluated a number of faculty activity reporting solutions and decided to partner with Digital Measures in support of AACSB accreditation. During a recent one-on-one discussion, Western shared exactly why they chose Activity Insight and the steps they are taking to implement the system for the purpose of generating reports for AACSB.

Background

Founded in 1893, Western is one of six public universities in the U.S. state of Washington. Located in Bellingham, Western is the northernmost university in the contiguous United States. Not too big, but not too small, Western offers the focus on students and the faculty access of a smaller college and the academic choice, resources, multicultural diversity, and room to grow of a large university. With over 700 faculty and 15,000 students enrolled at the university, Western confers more than 3,700 degrees at all levels annually.

Getting Started

your challenges, our expertiseAs a cornerstone of its standards, AACSB holds business schools accountable for playing a significant contributing role in the business realm—and society as a whole—as a by-product of their mission. Because of the complexity and importance of this, Western wanted to transition from their current inefficient approach (manual processes along with a home-grown system) to an effective and respectable solution. “We chose Activity Insight because it works for AACSB. Many of our peer universities already use the solution for AACSB, the company is familiar with the requirements and the team at DM can give us insight on what other universities have done when they encounter certain issues for AACSB,” explained their Academic Department Manager at the College of Business and Economics at Western.

Gaining Faculty Insight During Pilot Testing

Faculty are an integral part of a faculty activity reporting solution and the accreditation process—their buy-in is essential to ensuring both a successful implementation and on-site review. For this reason, Western chose to bring in a diverse subset of faculty—some savvy with technology and others who were not; some with complex records, others with fewer records—to participate in pilot testing. And when it came to ensuring faculty were familiar with the system, Western focused only on data required in the AACSB tables essential for their upcoming review. “We built a data entry checklist around AACSB and skipped anything that wasn’t required. Our goal was to hit on every problem we could encounter before implementing the system,” she explained.

Getting Data in the System

In the midst of an accreditation effort, universities can often be overwhelmed with the volume of data required to generate the appropriate AACSB reports. Western addressed this task using a hybrid approach in which the school’s administrative team took an initial pass at importing data from their home-grown system, and then offered to fill in the gaps using faculty CVs as a reference. “One of our goals was to create faculty buy-in. To do this, we let faculty decide if they wanted to update their records themselves or they had the option to update their CV with the past 5 years of data and then we would use this to input the data for them,” she noted. She continued, “We also input many other records from other offices on campus, including scheduled teaching and HR records.”

What’s Next?

With their on-site review ahead of them, Western is confident in how they have configured their faculty activity reporting solution for AACSB accreditation. Following their on-site visit, the university is looking ahead to leverage the system for faculty activity record reports and annual faculty reviews. She explained, “Right now faculty have to repeatedly look for paper records, provide this information to their department chairs, then department chairs have to organize it and keep in on file for the dean’s office. With Activity Insight, department chairs can access this information at anytime.”

Does your university have an upcoming accreditation or reaccreditation with AACSB? Consider implementing a faculty activity reporting solution to solve some of the challenges you may face during the process.

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