Dharma Realm Buddhist University, a Ukiah private university dedicated to liberal education in the Buddhist tradition, has received initial accreditation from the WASC Senior Commission of Universities and Colleges for six years, signifying that it meets essential education standards set through a peer-reviewed process.
The accreditation means that the college now can take on more incoming students in each class and can attract more students to the university. The accreditation also gives the college the ability to apply for permission to enroll students from abroad and allows its students access to specific federal loan programs.
Although there are no current plans to make massive changes, the accreditation gives the college opportunities for growth that can benefit the college, according to DRBU President Susan Rounds.
“It’s just a natural step in the process when you are developing a program like this because it offers you a kind of authenticity and legitimacy in the eyes of the larger public so that we can continue to attract students to grow to our maximum size, which we anticipate to be about 350 students for undergraduate programs,” Rounds said.
DRBU currently offers an MA in Buddhist Classics (16 students) and a BA in Liberal Arts, (18 students) with a strong emphasis on Asian core texts and the integration of contemplative exercises.
The formal accreditation process started in 2013, but it took several years of planning to create a program that the school felt was doable and would meet the standards of an accrediting agency. During the time DRBU was under the WSCUC review process, the school underwent comprehensive self-studies, extensive reporting, and two on-site reviews conducted by a team of peer educators from WSCUC-accredited institutions.
In a commission action letter after visiting the campus, the WSCUC said that the school did well in providing a “thoughtful and effective implementation of an assessment framework, characterized by intense institution-wide participation and reflection on how to use the results for programmatic improvement” and also had “an exemplary shared governance processes and practices in which all members of the university community can participate meaningfully in decision-making.”
“The granting of Initial Accreditation affirms the collective resolve of the University community to continuously reflect and improve on DRBU’s effectiveness in furthering its mission: conveying knowledge and activating inherent wisdom,” said Bhikshuni Heng Chih, chairperson of the DRBU board of trustees.
DRBU is now one of only a couple of hundred colleges in California that have accreditation, joining the UC and CSU systems as well as select private colleges like Stanford University that meet the standard.
“The process itself is an enabler of growth, and it’s a very positive process for the university, and we are the better for having undergone it,” Rounds said.
To view the visiting team report and WSCUC Action Letter from the review of Dharma Realm Buddhist University visit https://www.wscuc.org/institutions/dharma-realm-buddhist-university.