SACS Reaffirmation at Tech Now Underway
A group of faculty and staff spent part of their summer working on an important initiative that comes around every 10 years: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmation.
Reaffirmation is the process by which Georgia Tech must prove to a review team from peer institutions, via the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), that the Institute is qualified to continue to award academic credit. SACSCOC, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the nation’s southern states, works closely with the U.S. Department of Education.
The formal kickoff for the 10-year reaffirmation of Tech’s accreditation began in June 2013. The process will continue through the end of 2015, with Tech’s onsite visit scheduled for March 2015.
“This is an important process through which we review our policies, procedures, and programs in compliance certification,” said Catherine Murray-Rust, vice provost for Learning Excellence, dean of Libraries, and Tech’s SACS Accreditation Liaison.
By September 2014, Tech will provide a self-study of its compliance — 95 core requirements and principles — encompassing the spectrum of activities on campus. The gathering of this information will require time and effort on the part of hundreds of people campuswide, and will be managed by a Compliance Steering Committee of campus administrators. During last month’s Institute Address, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson thanked faculty and staff in advance for their engagement in the project.
The compliance certification is an opportunity for Tech to identify institutional weaknesses or problems and correct them, Murray-Rust said.
“I view the compliance part of this process, at best, like moving from one house to another,” she said. “It takes a tremendous amount of work, and if you do it well, you recalibrate your life and your belongings. You review all aspects of your stuff and how you live, toss out or give away what you don’t need, pack what is left up carefully, and move. At least for a brief period, you are aware of your assets and your liabilities.”
Tech must also provide a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve the quality of student learning outcomes and the environment of learning. It should be directly and traceably related to Tech’s strategic plan. The QEP will be a funded mandate and will result in a detailed implementation plan and budget for five-10 years of support.
“The QEP presents an opportunity for campus to select an academic goal that will impact student learning,” Murray-Rust said.
The plan is due in December 2014. There will be a process to submit focused proposals. There is a QEP Steering Committee in place that will grow and change in membership once a QEP is selected.
“The Quality Enhancement Plan is the part of the compliance certification that most directly involves faculty,” Murray-Rust said. “Faculty need to be engaged in determining the best project and creating the plan that generates wide impact on campus, including assessment and programmatic support.”