“AUA has seen tremendous benefits as a result of its U.S.-accreditation, which has helped put Armenia on the higher education map and has made AUA an attractive opportunity to both local and international students and faculty,” Sharistan Melkonian, the Director of Accreditation of the American University of Armenia told CivilNet. On March 19, AUA announced that the WASC Senior College and University Commission reaffirmed its accreditation for nine years, extending it to 2024.
The decision is the culmination of a five-year process that began in 2010. “AUA has made tremendous effort toward cultivating a community of scholars and institutionalizing student learning assessment, two areas of focus for the university during the reaffirmation process,” Melkonian said.
According to the AUA, the reaffirmation process included two WSCUC site visits to AUA in February 2012 and September 2014. Additionally, on February 19, 2015, AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. Lawrence Pitts attended a meeting with the Commission in which they considered AUA’s reaffirmation.
“From my years of academic service, I know the high standards WSCUC requires of the universities and colleges it reviews, and I have never previously seen the kind of praise that the reviewers heaped on AUA. The nine-year grant of accreditation attests to the confidence that the visiting team and commission have in the university,” Dr. Pitts remarked.
WSCUC President Mary Ellen Petrisko, in her Commission Action Letter relaying the affirmation decision to Dr. Der Kiureghian, quoted the site visit team’s report: “AUA is an institution that has successfully integrated ‘assessment into the fabric of the university,’ that ‘assiduously gathers evidence of student learning and success to inform changes to courses, programs and instructors,’ and that is building a faculty and staff who are ‘passionate,’ ‘committed to excellence,’ and set ‘high levels of achievement for themselves and their students.’”
Petrisko went on to summarize the site visit team’s report: “AUA has done more work than many other universities in institutionalizing assessment of student learning and in instituting program review.” Of the university’s new undergraduate program, she wrote, “The team was impressed by ‘the degree to which the university has taken thoughtful steps to build on its past success as a graduate institution to ensure that undergraduates are well prepared to succeed at high levels.’”
AUA initiated the accreditation process in 1998, was granted Candidate status in 2002, and was granted initial accreditation in 2006. This was the university’s first opportunity for reaffirmation, solidifying its standing as the only U.S.-accredited higher education institution in the region.
Accreditation directly benefits students by simplifying degree verification, enabling students to more easily continue their studies in universities in the United States and Europe. Faculty benefit by being part of an internationally-recognized community of scholars. The university benefits by ensuring evidence-based and continuous process improvement, as well as diversity among its faculty and students. And, society benefits because AUA graduates transition into the labor market with highly employable skills.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.