Important Announcement Regarding WASC Accreditation Review -- Update

May 15, 2013

Dear UC Berkeley Community,

I am writing to update you on our Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation review. The review is being conducted under a pilot process based on the new WASC Handbook that takes effect on July 1, 2013 Information about WASC is available at

On April 1, 2013, the campus submitted the first of a number of documents required by WASC, the Retention, Graduation, and Time-To-Degree Institutional Data and Narrative, focused on our undergraduate student body. We were able to report that undergraduates at Berkeley make timely progress to degree, with median elapsed time-to-degree of 4 and 2 years for freshmen and transfer entrants, respectively. Of freshmen entrants, 82% graduate within 4.5 years of entry, and 89% graduate by year 5. Berkeley's six-year graduation rate at 90% for freshmen is very high, particularly compared to AAU public peers (whose average rate is 77%). Transfers also have fouryear graduation rates at 90%, showing that students who enter at the junior year experience the same degree of success. These graduation rates have improved over time, from 77% in 1985 to the 90% we see today. In addition, differential gaps in graduation rates by sub-populations are narrowing over time.

I am very pleased to announce that on May 7th WASC informed us that our report received the highest rating, “Highly Developed.” The panel who evaluated our submission commended UCB for our:

a) mission and commitment to diversity;

b) comprehensive Strategic Plan for equity, inclusion and diversity;

c) overall success with retention and graduation results;

d) many efforts to address the aforementioned gaps and attention to issues including stereotype threat and campus climate;

e) summer courses and the Common Good Curriculum Initiative which contribute to timely progress towards a degree;

f) investment in Cal Answers;

g) commitment to access and financial aid (grants/scholarships) for students, and low debt levels for graduating students.

The campus will be submitting its institutional self-study, including required narratives on the meaning of degrees, student success and institutional sustainability, by the deadline of August 23, 2013. An External Review Team chaired by President Mary Sue Coleman (University of Michigan) will conduct an off-site review of the campus that will include a conference call with key institutional leaders on October 31, 2013. A campus visit will take place in fall 2014.

Incoming Chancellor Dirks will continue to update the community on our re-accreditation as we meet additional milestones. If you have questions about our campus accreditation, please contact Accreditation Liaison Officer Cynthia Schrager at

Thank you for your continuing efforts to support the WASC re-accreditation process.

Robert J. Birgeneau

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