SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation
Frequently Asked Questions
SACS Reaffirmation Process
- What is SACS?
SACS stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is the accrediting body for educational institutions within Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America. The Commission on Colleges (COC) is the division of SACS that oversees accreditation of higher education within the region. (For more information, see www.sacscoc.org.)
- What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process of self-regulation by which institutions conduct self-evaluations according to specified guidelines and then allow themselves to be reviewed by peers to assess an institution’s effectiveness in fulfilling its mission, its success in complying with standards set by the accrediting body, and its ongoing efforts toward continuous improvement of the educational programs, services, and quality of student learning. The resulting awarding or reaffirmation of accreditation serves to assure the public that the institution maintains high standards, operates with integrity, and consistently strives to improve the quality and effectiveness of all of its programs and services.
- Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges signifies that the institution:
- has a mission appropriate to higher education,
- has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and
- maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives. (Principles of Accreditation, p. 1).
- How will UNA prepare for SACS Reaffirmation?
The University is required to prepare two major reports as it seeks reaffirmation. First, UNA will conduct a thorough self-evaluation to review its success in meeting each of the specified standards set forth by SACS in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. UNA will develop narratives and a body of supporting documentation to justify its own assessment related to SACS compliance. The resulting Compliance Certification Report will be submitted about fifteen months in advance (September 2011) of UNA’s anticipated reaffirmation decision (December 2012). This report will then be reviewed by an Off-Site Peer Review Committee (composed of individuals from other SACS institutions) during the fall of 2011. The Off-Site Committee will make a preliminary assessment concerning compliance and will share the resulting report with the On-Site Review Committee.
Additionally, the University will prepare a Quality Enhancement Plan or QEP. According to SACS, the QEP is a document developed by the institution that:
- includes a broad-based institutional process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment,
- focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution,
- demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP,
- includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP, and
- identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.
- Who is involved in the reaffirmation process?
SACS accreditation touches all aspects of the University’s programs, services, and facilities. Information will be gathered from all sectors of the university community. Specific committees, including representatives from faculty, administration, staff, students, and alumni, will oversee the collection, assimilation, and reporting of data needed to document compliance and to develop the Quality Enhancement Plan.
The reaffirmation process will be overseen by the SACS Leadership Team and coordinated by Mrs. Celia Reynolds, the SACS Reaffirmation Director. Throughout the process there will be numerous opportunities for involvement and input.
- How is UNA evaluated?
Off-Site Peer Review
Once the Compliance Certification Report is submitted it is evaluated by a SACS-appointed committee of individuals from other SACS institutions. This off-site committee reviews the report and the supporting documentation to see how well the University satisfies the Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements specified in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. The Off-Site Peer Review Committee evaluates several similar institutions at the same time. During a fall meeting in Atlanta, the Off-Site Committee prepares a report documenting its findings for each of its assigned institutions. An individualized report is sent to the University; the Off-Site Committee’s report is also given to UNA’s On-Site Review Committee. Prior to the on-campus review visit UNA will submit a Focused Report to respond to any concerns expressed by the Off-Site Review Committee. This Focused Report is also given to the On-Site Review Committee.
On-Site Peer Review
During the spring of 2012 the On-Site Review Committee, composed of individuals appointed from other SACS institutions, will review the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan to determine its acceptability. This group will also look into any areas of reported non-compliance and/or issues noted by the Off-Site Review Committee for further investigation. The On-Site Review Committee reports its findings to the SACS Commission on Colleges.
In addition to submitting a Focused Report following the off-site review, UNA will also submit a report responding to the On-Site Review Committee’s findings.
Commission on Colleges Review
During its annual meeting (December 8-11, 2012), the SACS Commission on Colleges will review the assessment reports by UNA’s Off-Site Review Committee, the On-Site Review Committee, and the response reports submitted by UNA. A decision will then be made and announced concerning UNA’s continued accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- What is the timeframe for the reaffirmation process?
The key dates in UNA’s reaffirmation process are listed below. There are many intermediate target dates and deadlines leading up to submission of UNA’s formal reports. (Click here for expanded timeline.)
SAC Leadership Team Training, Atlanta June 14, 2010 Compliance Certification Report Due September 10, 2011 Off-Site Peer Review November 2011 Quality Enhancement Plan Due Six weeks prior to On-Campus Visit On-Site Review Spring 2012 Response to On-Site Committee Report Summer 2012 Full Implementation of QEP Begins Fall 2012 Formal SACS Reaffirmation Decision December 2012 Five-Year Report/QEP Impact Report Due 2017
- Who can answer my questions about SACS?
For more information about UNA’s SACS Reaffirmation process, contact Ms. Celia Reynolds, SACS Reaffirmation Director, (256-765-4625) or e-mail SACS@una.edu.
Compliance Certification Questions
If you have questions concerning UNA’s compliance certification, please contact one of the co-chairs of the Compliance Certification Team: Dr. Jerri Bullard (256-765-4531) or Dr. Andrew Luna (256-765-4221).
Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Questions
If you have questions about the QEP process, please contact Dr. Phil Bridgmon, Chair of the QEP Planning Team, at 256-765-4192 or e-mail QEP@una.edu. For answers to Frequently Asked QEP Questions, click here.
Suggestions or Comments
To offer suggestions or comments, click here.
Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a QEP?
The QEP is a five-year plan dedicated to improving an aspect of student learning or the environment for student success.
- Why is the QEP important?
The QEP permits UNA to thoroughly examine all aspects of student learning and the support of student learning. This deep introspection then serves as the basis for developing a Quality Enhancement Plan that outlines actions to be taken to improve the quality of education at UNA.
- How will UNA develop its QEP?
The QEP Planning Committee will solicit input from all UNA constituencies regarding an appropriate QEP topic. The final selection of a QEP topic will be chosen based upon this input in conjunction with a thorough examination of data regarding student learning, engagement, employer surveys, alumni surveys, focus groups, and structured interviews.
- Who can submit an idea for a QEP?
Anyone can submit a topic, even administrators! We really want to hear from students, alumni, faculty, employers, staff, and anyone else who cares about UNA.
- How can one submit an idea for a QEP topic?
Email your QEP topic to QEP@una.edu or phone Phil Bridgmon at 256-765-4192.