Quality Enhancement Plan, 79 standards under review for reaffirmation effort.
By Bleah B. Patterson
On Jan. 27, members of this college’s reaccreditation committee attended an accreditation orientation in Atlanta, Ga., hosted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The SACS/COC is a regional body that serves as an accrediting institution for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Latin America and other international locations.
The association “serves as a common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions.
It is responsible for ensuring that institutions “meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students,” as stated in the SACS Commission on Colleges handbook, The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.
An accreditation is considered a public statement for an institution’s ability to “provide effective programs … based on agreed upon requirements,” according to the handbook.
This college’s reaccreditation committee began a precompliance audit in January 2013 and continued through the fall semester to assess compliance with 79 standards required by the association.
The standards are mandated and monitored in part by the federal government as well as the accreditation agency, Dr. David Wood, dean of performance and excellence, said.
Wood has been heading the accreditation process since July and has been shadowing Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer, who led the last two reaccreditation efforts.
The audit compliance discrepancies consisted of minor changes in standards since the last accreditation in 2006.
“We just had to modify certain policies to ensure we were being explicit,” Wood said.
“In 10 years, there are so many details, audits and minor slip-ups to repair,” Wood said. “We took last year to get those straightened out.
“We feel that we are in perfect compliance with 70 to 75 of the 79 standards,” Wood said. “The remaining standards we are in borderline compliance with, and I am confident we’ll be in 100 percent compliance soon.”
Faculty training, student learning outcomes and the Quality Enhancement Plan are among areas the college needs to improve, Wood said.
“These are three of the toughest areas to improve upon, due to complexity and the extent of behind-the-scenes work they require,” Wood said.
The college will be sending a compliance certification report to the SACS/COC in early March 2015.
In 2016, the college will receive one of three responses; “the ideal response is to have no recommendations and no follow ups,” Wood said, “but almost no one ever gets that response.”
The second possible response includes a few recommendations and some scheduled follow-ups.
The least desirable response, Wood said, is a reaccreditation reliant upon scheduled monitoring and a report from the association.
“We are not worried about losing our accreditation,” Wood said. “We’ve been working hard to ensure that everything is as it should be.”