SACS’ Reaffirmation QEP Selection Underway

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The 10-year reaffirmation of Georgia Tech’s accreditation is in full swing, with a major component — the selection of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for Student Learning — being addressed right now.

Five QEP concept papers were presented to the QEP Advisory Committee on Feb. 11. Another round of consultation will be held on Feb. 18.

Reaffirmation is the process by which 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.

Tech’s official reaffirmation process began last June and will continue through the end of 2015, with the on-site visit scheduled for March 2015. The Compliance Certification and the QEP for Student Learning are the two main components of the effort through which Tech reviews all policies, procedures, and programs, and chooses a special high-impact project for the next five years.

The purpose of the QEP is to enhance the quality of student learning outcomes and the environment of learning. The QEP also should be directly and traceably related to the Institute’s strategic plan. The QEP will be a funded mandate, and once selected, will result in a detailed implementation plan and budget for five to 10 years of support. More than 80 percent of the onsite review will focus on the QEP.

“For an idea to succeed as a QEP, it requires widespread buy-in from the campus community,” said Colin Potts, vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “SACS is serious about the need to show we’re enhancing student learning. It would be obvious if we put forward someone’s pet project or solutions in search of problems. So, we went about the task by inviting concept papers last year from teams representing at least three colleges. Nearly 100 authors were actively involved in the crafting of responses (that’s about 10 percent of faculty). And the concepts all traced directly back to the strategic plan — which was the result of deliberations by thousands of faculty, staff, and students over a period of a couple of years.”

The Student Government Association and other student constituencies are being consulted and will be fully involved in the refinement and definition of the QEP, according to Potts.

“There are already obvious tie-ins to many student societies, majors, and labs, as well as outreach to external organizations,” he added. “I’m confident that the QEP that emerges will reflect the ‘One Georgia Tech’ message.”

The QEP will be defined by early March and is due to SACSCOC by December 2014. The current QEP Advisory Committee will grow and change in membership once a QEP is selected. 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 be managed by a Compliance Steering Committee of campus administrators.

“The purpose of the reaffirmation process, which justifies all the time and effort by the hundreds of people involved, is to make Georgia Tech a better, stronger institution of higher learning,” said Catherine Murray-Rust, vice provost for Learning Excellence, dean of Libraries, and Tech’s SACS accreditation liaison. “In addition to a clear reaffirmation of accreditation by SACSCOC at the end of 2015, our goal is to have a very clear action agenda for improvement, which is aligned with the strategic plan.”



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