UNA Pressroom

Una Officials Prepare For On-campus Sacs Visit Feb. 28 - March 1

Feb. 24, 2012

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

FLORENCE, Ala. - The University of North Alabama is preparing for an on-site visit Feb. 28 to March 1 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as the institution reaches its 10-year SACS accreditation reaffirmation review. Officials have worked since 2009 to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan to ensure students are research literate in their respective disciplines. The on-site committee of professional peers will assess the educational strengths and weaknesses of the institution. They will then create a report aimed to help the institution improve its programs and refine its QEP. This written report also provides the basis on which SACS decides to grant, continue, reaffirm or even withdraw an institution's accreditation. Dr. Phil Bridgmon, leader of the QEP team and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, said many faculty and staff members at the university have worked tirelessly to prepare for the on-site SACS visit. "Renewal is essential for the university to continue its operation in good standing with our accrediting body, and the United States Department of Education," Bridgmon said. "Federal grants, loans and research dollars are tied specifically to accreditation. Renewal is a signal that the university is on sound financial footing, follows peer practices in academic support administration and is committed to improving in all areas of university life." SACS is responsible for evaluating and accrediting schools across the southern region with the Commission on Colleges responsible for accrediting colleges and universities. Accreditation is based on the findings from the COC evaluation of a school's overall curriculum and performance. The QEP is also a factor in the commission's evaluation. Accreditation is intended to assure the public of the quality of higher education institutions and to help those institutions and its programs improve. These outcomes are achieved through internal and external review processes during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards. Accreditation by SACS signifies the institution's continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on accreditation standards. The QEP at UNA is focused on teaching and sharpening a student's research skills pertaining to their educational program. Dr. Lisa Keys-Mathews, director of UNA's QEP committee, said that the research skills will be implemented throughout a student's coursework, beginning in the 100-level English courses and continuing into their upper-level classes. "It's exciting," said Keys-Mathews. "Many people are hesitant with the word 'research,' but it's everywhere. It is knowing how to ask a question and being able to answer it." For more information, contact Dr. Phil Bridgmon at 256-765-4192 or Celia Reynolds at 256-765-4625.