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Accreditation Update and Next Steps

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December 9, 2017

Update on WISR’s Pursuit of Accreditation and Finances

Accreditation Update and Next Steps

WISR has been declared eligible to pursue accreditation by the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (www.deac.org ).  Even though WISR offers ongoing opportunities for onsite seminars and face to face interaction, it is possible to study completely from a distance and earn a degree at WISR. As always, there are no guarantees, but we are hopeful that we can achieve accreditation by June 2020. DEAC is approved by the US Department of Education. WASC turned down our application for Eligibility last month, because they felt that we do not have, nor will we be able to develop, the large financial reserve and institutional infrastructure in the next two years that they expect of the (usually very large and conventional academic institutions they accredit).

DEAC has a number of very specific guidelines for course syllabi, so we will have to do some further tweaking of our syllabi. Still, as we do so, we will retain WISR’s strong emphasis on personalized/individualized degree programs and learning, and of course also, our commitments to social justice, multiculturalism, and action-inquiry and creativity in the content that students study.

We will have to make a transition to having our syllabi accessed through an online Learning Management System (such as Moodle or Canvas), our students will have to do a certain amount of “online studying” (studying some of the WISR-required readings and relevant videos online, not just hard cover print books), and some regular posting of “thinking out loud” ideas for feedback from other students and faculty (online dialogue—which will be easier for some students than having to come to two seminars per month—a requirement that so far only MFT students and a couple of other students have complied with).  We will have an initial discussion of first steps toward such refinements at our All School Gathering, Saturday, February 3rd (please try to participate, onsite or by phone/video conference).  In addition, our new volunteer staff (and student) Learning Technology Specialist, Mark Wilson, will conduct needed trainings on technology for students and faculty, alike, to help make this transition smooth.

Indeed, WISR has the opportunity now to become, after several years, a rather distinctive and appealing option—a distance learning alternative that:

  • Can be onsite and face to face for those who want that,
  • Will be engaging and socially progressive, rather than cookie cutter and conformist,
  • Will support and encourage self-directed learning that is also highly collaborative (through a combination of seminars, online forums, and student initiated collaborations),
  • Will continue to be affordable (despite likely, modest tuition increases in the not too distant future) and accessible to adults—especially those who are attracted by WISR’s long-held, steadfast commitments to our distinctive social and educational mission and methods.

Update on WISR’s Finances

We have made enormous progress, financially, in the past year, although we will need to continue and sustain this progress over the next several years, in order to become accredited.

So far, during 2017, we have received just over $37,000 in donations—ranging from $42 to $15,000—from 9 currently enrolled students, 5 Board members, 9 alumni, 2 current and/or former faculty, one staff person and 2 friends of WISR.   In addition, all WISR faculty have donated their time for the third consecutive year.  This year, I donated 1/3 of my salary–$26,000, as well as about $10,000 in health care benefits that I did not ask for WISR to pay. An anonymous member of our WISR learning community donated $15,000, which was matched within a month.

In 2018, the same anonymous member of our community will donate another $15,000, if that is matched. I will also donate 1/6 of my salary ($13,000) and again not ask for health care benefits. At the very minimum, we need to raise $15,000 to receive the matching donation in 2018.  Ideally, we will receive an additional $25,000 in donations (over and above the $15,000)—in order to pay the expected $25,000 in accreditation fees, the $7,000 CPA Audit, and $8,000 in expected library and technology-related expenses.

 The $37,000 donated this year, in addition to the in-kind donations by faculty members and myself have enabled us to reduce WISR’s debt from $45,000 (as of 18 months ago) to $5,000.  These funds also paid for library expenses, a needed annual audit and accreditation fees.

I thank all of you for your contributions to WISR, for your commitments to and engagement in learning at WISR, for your participation in helping to discuss and plan WISR’s future, and for the monetary contributions from those of you who could afford to do so.  Please continue to participate, to ask questions, and to make suggestions, and to contribute to WISR in those ways that are most feasible and meaningful for each of you.

Best wishes for the holidays and the New Year,

John Bilorusky

WISR Annual Funding Campaign Your Donations Matched up to $20,000

WISeR Campaign for Education in Social Justice

For: Western Institute for Social Research
Your Donations Matched up to $20,000 by the WISR Scholar Fund

The Story

Founded in 1975, the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) links education and social change in offering personalized BS, MS and Doctoral degree programs to those who wish to combine academic studies, action research/community-based inquiry with their community activist and professional involvements.

ORGANIZATION AND ACTIVISM 101

The Persistence of Discrimination:

Why it Exists, Despite Decades-Old Civil Rights Laws; and How a Multidisciplinary Response By Lawyers, Therapists, Educators, Health Care Professionals, Artists, Community Activists and Journalists Can Help

 Saturday, July 22, 2017

 10am-1pm

All are welcome to this Cross-Disciplinary Seminar that is open to the public and available via videoconference. PDF Flyer; Online Flyer

This workshop provides 3 hours of CEUs for Attorneys, Educators, Healthcare Administrators and Health Care Professionals, Nurses, Psychologists, LMFTs, LCSWs, and LPCCs.

Guest presenter and Bay Area Human Rights Attorney Michele Magar will address the persistence of discrimination decades after enactment of civil rights laws, and how lawyers, therapists, educators, culture creators, and journalists are finding new ways to address it.

We will screen the 18-minute film, The Power of 504, which captures the birth of the disability rights movement when it occupied the federal building in San Francisco for 26 days in a successful effort to force the federal government to issue implementing regulations to a law barring disability-based discrimination.

Michele Magar is a Bay Area Human Rights lawyer and award winning journalist who uses a broad range of advocacy tools to advance civil and human rights.

Cost:  $30 for CEU Credit. $10 donation requested from other participants. CEUs can also be accessed by internet/video conference.

 For more information or to register, contact mail@wisr.edu

WISR Doctoral Student Karen Young awarded a mini grant for project to decrease consumption of sugar sweetened beverages among young adults

WISR Doctoral Student Karen Young was just awarded a $10,000 mini grant by LifeLong Medical Care and the City of Berkeley to implement a health education and awareness project.  Karen’s project is called Water Wise. The goal of Water Wise is to decrease the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and increase the consumption of water. The Water Wise awareness competition will be an internet competition where individuals and groups age 16 to 24, may express the benefits of drinking water and the harmful effects of drinking sugar sweetened soft drinks in a 3 minute video. The Water Wise videos will be much like infomercials disseminating a diverse but consistent message regarding healthy hydration. Each contestant will compete, by getting the most online views of their health education awareness video. Contestants are encouraged to use social media like Facebook, My Space or Twitter to solicit viewers. Viewers or voters can be anyone with a valid email address anywhere in the world. The three (3) contestants getting the greatest number of views, in excess of five (500) hundred views will win a $500 Visa Card. The first ten applicants will receive a $25 Visa Card.

Current Seminars and Events

SEPTEMBER 21-24, 2017 WISR 9th ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND SATURDAY KEYNOTE “THE CHOICE”

To view calendar click this link: Current Calendar of Seminars, Events & Announcements