Frequently Asked Questions about SACS
SACS Reaffirmation Process
- What is SACSCOC?
SACSCOC stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 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. (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 the 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 SACSCOC 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 does UNA maintain SACSCOC Accreditation?
Although SACSCOC reviewers formally visit UNA’s campus every ten years, maintenance of accreditation is an ongoing process. Annually, the University submits two reports to SACSCOC: an institutional profile outlining general characteristics and enrollment information and a financial profile verifying financial stability.
As part of the decennial review (2012) the University was required to prepare two major reports. First, UNA conducted a thorough self-evaluation to review its success in meeting each of the specified standards set forth by SACSCOC in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. UNA developed narratives and a body of supporting documentation to justify its own assessment related to SACSCOC compliance. The resulting Compliance Certification Report was submitted in September 2011 for review during November 2011, by an Off-Site Peer Review Committee (composed of individuals from other SACSCOC institutions from outside of Alabama). The Off-Site Committee made a preliminary assessment concerning compliance and shared the resulting report with the On-Site Review Committee.
The On-Site Review Committee visited UNA’s campus February 28 – March 1, 2012, to verify the findings of the Off-Site Committee and to further assess the University’s compliance with accreditation standards. Additionally, the On-Site Review Committee examined the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan or QEP. UNA’s QEP, Building Success through Discovery: Imagine, Investigate, Communicate, is a multi-year plan to systematically infuse student research throughout the undergraduate curriculum.
At the same time UNA submitted its QEP report (six weeks in advance of the on-site visit), the University also submitted a Focused Report providing additional documentation to answer questions raised by the Off-Site Review Committee, and a document that addressed compliance with new standards adopted by SACSCOC during its annual meeting in December 2011.
The On-Site Review Committee deemed the University to be in compliance with all of the required SACSCOC standards and issued no recommendations. In December 2012, SACSCOC reaffirmed UNA’s accreditation. The University will be required to submit a Fifth-Year Interim report, a SACSCOC requirement that documents the impact of the Quality Enhancement Plan and provides evidence of ongoing compliance with accreditation standards.
Additionally, the University submits Substantive Change requests and reports as required to accommodate the institution’s expanding academic programs.
- Who is involved in UNA’s accreditation process?
SACSCOC accreditation touches all aspects of the University's programs, services, and facilities. Information for periodic reports is regularly gathered from all sectors of the university community. Additionally, numerous faculty, staff, and students are involved in implementation and assessment of the Quality Enhancement Plan.
Dr. Leah Graham serves as the University’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison. UNA’s academic deans and department chairs, in conjunction with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, monitor academic developments and the need for substantive change reporting. Each year the University sends representatives to the annual SACSCOC conference to keep up-to-date with the latest requirements and best practices.
- Who can answer my questions about SACSCOC?
For more information about UNA’s SACSCOC accreditation process, contact Dr. Leah Graham, UNA SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, (256-765-4916) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Questions
If you have questions about the QEP implementation, contact Dr. Lisa Keys-Mathews, QEP Director, at 256-765-4640 or e-mail QEP@una.edu.
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