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Any progressive academic institution is always working on achieving and maintaining the standards of quality. Accreditation is a visible result of these efforts. Accreditation bodies oversee learning institutions to ensure they offer high-quality programs and that diplomas and transcripts produced by a school are credible and recognized by others. Failure to adhere to the standards set by these bodies, and your coveted diploma can very quickly be rendered useless even after spending thousands of dollars in tuition and fees.

For a few years now Lincoln University has been working on getting the acclaimed WASC accreditation, one of the best accreditations in the USA, and with a little sweat and maybe some drops of tears, we finally got it. You must be wondering what WASC is and why it matters so much... Well, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Alexander Anokhin who played a big role in getting this treasured possession.

Dr. Anokhin is an Associate Professor of Business Administration, Humanities, and History with a Ph.D. from Tomsk State University in Russia. Aside from being a professor, he is also the Assistant Provost whose function is to help create and implement academic policies. He works closely with other departments to attain the highest quality of educational programs within and outside the classrooms and this explains his involvement in getting the WASC accreditation, the best accreditation Lincoln University has ever had, and one that puts us up there with the best universities in the region.

Kindly explain what WASC accreditation is to those who don’t know. Is it a regional or national accreditation?

WASC stands for Western Association of Schools and Colleges and it is a regional accreditation. A lot of foreign students perceive regional accreditation as less important than national accreditation, but in the USA it's the opposite. National accreditation is the second tier and is less prestigious than regional accreditation; this is because accreditation is not a function of the government. They are done by private clubs, be it national or regional, they are private clubs who come up with standards to measure the quality of instruction and education. And over some time, the regional accreditation has become the more prominent accreditation to have.

You mentioned that the accreditation agencies are private clubs, so if that’s the case then bigger universities are more likely to get favors just because they are big.

WASC accredits various types of universities including some community colleges with various branches and thousands of students, and so it is very unlikely that they’ll just say ‘hey you don't fulfill the requirements and so you are out’ because then they will put in jeopardy the life of thousands of students. Big universities, just by the sheer fact that they are big, add more weight, but they don't seem to abuse it, based on the reputation that WASC has maintained so far.

How rigorous is the process of getting this kind of accreditation?

WASC is one of the hardest accreditations to get. There are typically 4 standards for accreditation and each one has a certain criterion for review. If I am not mistaken, WASC has as many as 48 criteria which can go as broad as organizational restructuring to as simple as maintaining a certain level of relationship with the alumni community. So it takes time and resources. It took three visits from WASC, within three years, each time getting recommendations from them and improving on them.

Some schools in California even go to the extent of moving their headquarters to other regions so they can get accreditation in a region with a less rigorous process. For Lincoln to have achieved this, especially considering we are a small university with limited resources, means our academic standards are way up there.

How does this accreditation compare to the ones Lincoln has had before?

Of all the accreditations, if you want to keep one, there’s no question you have to keep WASC because it opens doors to opportunities, unlike any other accreditation we have had or will have in the future.

If this is the one to keep, will Lincoln University get any other accreditation or maintain the national accreditation we had before?

Well, all accreditations demonstrate certain qualities of the university, so we don't need to have the National accreditation that we had before but it is a good idea to maintain it as long as it does not require lots of dedicated resources allocated to getting and maintaining it.

Which other universities/colleges have WASC accreditation?

All the big names here in California from Stanford, all the UC systems like UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, all the community colleges, name them.

What kind of benefits/opportunities does this kind of accreditation give to Lincoln University and our students?

If you’ve ever seen any job qualification asking for a regionally accredited university, now you can check that box. Also, the quality of our degrees increases significantly because WASC accreditation is like a stamp of approval or a sign of quality. Potential employers cannot know all the universities and the kind of education they offer, the only way they can separate the wheat from the chaff is through regional accreditation. This accreditation has now allowed us to be part of this huge community of schools in the Bay Area and transferring to and from these schools is going to be very smooth.

How long is WASC accreditation good for?

The accreditation runs for 6 years and we have to maintain quality standards to get it renewed.

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