Western Washington University’s Recreation program has been accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Park, Recreation, and Tourism (COAPRT) university programs through the National Recreation and Park Association since 1986, and recently received re-accreditation status in 2012. The combination of a unique cohort-based curriculum, faculty dedication to teaching in and out of the classroom through retreats, applied and experiential learning opportunities that engage community members, and service learning opportunities linking theory with practice intersect to provide a dynamic learning environment for our students and faculty. This affirmation of the quality of the Recreation Program is a reflection of WWU’s commitment to excellence. According to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, WWU is the second highest highest-ranking public regional University in the West and the highest ranked master’s-granting university in the Pacific Northwest. The faculty, staff, and students of the program were therefore pleased to receive re-accreditation in 2012 as part of its ongoing commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. In their final report, the reviewers noted the following elements as particular strengths of the program:
- The phase system produces a unique learning community of students. Students move through the program in a cohort group in which they take all required courses together, participating on group work and study groups. Students acknowledge that the cohort model is the strength of the program.
- The Social Justice philosophy permeates the curriculum and provides a theoretical foundation for leisure services that all students can build upon. Students can clearly articulate this philosophy and describe how it relates to their professional practice.
Though the program has undergone several changes since its inception in 1973, the faculty, students, and alumni continue to take great pride in the Recreation Program’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and service to the profession in helping students discover how their values, beliefs, knowledge, and acquired skills can enrich the lives of others through the provision of recreation and leisure services. In the initial review of the Recreation Program in 1986, the review team concluded:
The overall evaluation of the Recreation and Park Program by the Visitation Team is that this is a program of great excellence, and has the potential for providing a model for other universities to follow.
Accreditation Review Final Report
Dr. Gaylene Carpenter
Mr. Ron Dodd
Dr. Edith Ball (Chair)
Five years later, the continuing accreditation review conducted by Dr. Veda Ward concurred with this view in concluding “There are many strengths to the Recreation and Park program,” listing among them the quality of the faculty, a unique program structure built upon the aims of liberal education, and the effective preparation of students to meet career challenges. Her views were echoed by Provost Roland L. De Lorme, who said in his September 9, 1991 response to Dr. Ward’s report, “We are pleased with comments regarding the quality of teaching and strong faculty-student relationships evidenced in the program, the viability of the phase model, and our continuing commitment to liberal education.”
In his 1996 letter to Western Washington University President Karen Morse announcing continuing accreditation for the Recreation Program, Dr. Roger Coles, Council on Accreditation Chair, wrote, “The program is to be commended for its willingness to be different, as evidenced by their cohort phasing. We are particularly impressed with the ‘advance’ [referring to regular student-faculty retreats] that contributes significantly to program cohesion and shared mission by students and faculty.” In her 2001 report to the Council on Accreditation, site reviewer Dr. Maureen Glancy exclaimed: This visitor has never met a more open, frank, vocal, and thoughtful group of students in the 4th week of their second term in a recreation curriculum. The students who were further advanced and at the end of the curriculum were polished, knowledgeable, ethically aware, and literate professionals who were proud of their knowledge and skills.
In October of 2007, the Recreation Program once again was granted continuing accreditation status with the COA. Roger Coles, the Council Chair, stated in his letter that “The Council commends the recreation program for its efforts and dedication to unique and innovative student preparedness through the Phase program and the faculty’s commitment to teaching excellence.”