WHITTIER, CA. – (June 22, 2022) — For the past six years, SCU President John Scaringe, DC, EdD has served as one of 21 commissioners with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) to accredit postsecondary institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and British Columbia, along with other domestic and international geographic areas.
Following the completion of two 3-year terms, this week will be Dr. Scaringe’s final meeting as commissioner. Dr. Scaringe reviewed many medical, physical therapy, nursing, occupational medicine, dental, physician assistant programs, along with non-health sciences institutions seeking reaffirmation of their accreditation or candidacy for accreditation. He also provided excellent service as a member of the NWCCU Bylaws, Standards, and Policies Committee, which undertook the critical work during the last few years of updating the Commission’s Bylaws, Policies, and Standards for Accreditation.
Dr. Scaringe is the second chiropractor to have served as an NWCCU commissioner. The first chiropractor commissioner was Joseph Brimhall, president of the University of Western States (UWS), Dr. Scaringe’s friend and colleague. Aside from these two individuals, no other chiropractor, acupuncture, naturopath, etc. has served as a commissioner on any of the seven institutional accreditors in the U.S.
When asked whether his service – as a chiropractor and President of an interprofessional education-based health sciences university – has fostered the awareness of and increased importance for integrative, team-based professional healthcare, Dr. Scaringe shared his thoughts. “I think my and Dr. Brimhall’s service has increased acceptance of and elevated the reputation of complementary and alternative (CAM) healthcare professions within higher education communities. It’s now more widely accepted that CAM universities are not just ‘trade schools,’ but respected as legitimate institutions of higher learning.”
As he steps down this week, Dr. Scaringe reflected on his service and what he’s most proud of from his six years as a commissioner. “I am so honored to be a part of an important part of the higher education community that assures high educational standards and assist institutions to be better. I am particularly proud of being a part of the NWCCU that focuses on student achievement, diversity, and access in education. I am humbled to sit at the table with so many bright, caring, and impressive leaders from all types of colleges and universities. My experience has helped me understand the larger higher education landscape and how SCU fits into that ecosystem, and also how SCU goes beyond, by challenging convention and embracing collaboration. My experience with NWCCU has made me a better and more caring President for SCU.”
In thanking Dr. Scaringe for his service as an NWCCU commissioner, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, president of NWCCU, stated, “although his core background is in the health sciences, Dr. Scaringe brought an insightful and passionate approach to helping NWCCU support ALL of its member institutions to achieve excellence in student success and closing equity gaps. His work on helping update the Commission’s Bylaws, Standards, and Policies will be a legacy that will have a lasting impact on NWCCU’s members.”
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether the criteria are met. Institutions that meet an agency’s criteria are then accredited.
According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), there are 19 approved accrediting bodies in the United States. For example, Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) is accredited by The Accrediting Commission of Schools/Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is one of the six regional agencies and accredits schools in California, Hawaii, and Guam, as well as international institutions around the world.
Other regional accrediting organizations include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Prior to the Trump administration’s release of the 2020 regulations pertaining to accreditation, colleges and universities were only able to seek institutional accreditation with the accreditation commission in their region. Following release of the 2020 regulations, regional accreditation commissions are no longer bound to accredit institutions only in their regions and may have members from other regions and, therefore, are now referred to as institutional accreditors.
Dr. Scaringe served as one of two NWCCU’s commissioners from outside of the region. While Dr. Scaringe says regional accreditation is “the gold standard,” certain accredited colleges may be accredited by a national accreditor and individual programs may also receive specialized programmatic accreditation. Scaringe explains this latter type of programmatic accreditation is important to ensure degree programs meet the current needs and standards of the profession.
“Accreditation helps ensure assessment and problem-solving standards are unified across schools and the industry. But earning accreditation is not the end-all-be-all. Once a college school is accredited, it must continue to uphold its status by maintaining quality programs, retaining qualified faculty members, and keeping satisfactory graduation, employment, and repayment rates. Most schools will be re-evaluated in around five to seven years,” said Dr. Scaringe. “And, in a system of checks and balances, it’s only right to hold accreditors to high standards as well.”
Thank you Dr. Scaringe for your service to the higher education community and for your commitment to promoting student success and closing equity gaps, both as president of SCU and as a member of NWCCU and the many institutions it accredits.
For more on SCU’s Programmatic Accreditation and Approval, including State Authorizations and Affiliations, visit SCU’s accreditation page. And, explore all of SCU’s accredited on-campus and online degree programs.