SACSCOC Accreditation Update

Posted by Jessica Stowell on March 7, 2016

In July 2015, with the retirement of Bruce Larson, I was appointed as the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison for UNC Asheville.  I have very big shoes to fill, but as your Accreditation Liaison I will do my best to fill them.  Per SACSCOC policy the Accreditation Liaison is responsible for the following:

  1. “Ensuring that compliance with accreditation requirements is incorporated into the planning and evaluation process of the institution.
  2. Notifying the Commission in advance of substantive changes and program developments in accord with the substantive change policies of the Commission.
  3. Familiarizing faculty, staff, and students with the Commission’s accrediting policies and procedures, and with particular sections of the accrediting standards and Commission policies that have application to certain aspects of the campus (e.g., library, continuing education) especially when such documents are adopted or revised.
  4. Serving as a contact person for Commission staff. This includes encouraging institutional staff to route routine inquiries about the Principles of Accreditation and accreditation policies and processes through them Accreditation Liaison, who will contact Commission staff, if necessary, and ensuring that email from the Commission office does not get trapped in the institution’s spam filter.
  5. Coordinating the preparation of the annual profiles and any other reports requested by the Commission.
  6. Serving as a resource person during the decennial review process and helping prepare for and coordinating reaffirmation and other accrediting visits.
  7. Ensuring that electronic institutional data collected by the Commission is accurate and timely.
  8. Maintaining a file of all accreditation materials, such as, reports related to the decennial review; accreditation committee reports; accreditation manuals, standards, and policies; schedules of all visits; and correspondence from accrediting offices.”

Over the next few months you will begin to hear about the Fifth Year Interim Review.  The fifth year interim review was developed to respond to the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements (1) that accrediting bodies continuously monitor institutions to ensure compliance and (2) that accrediting bodies have a mechanism for reviewing multiple sites initiated since last reaffirmation. The review is made up of an Institutional Summary Form, a Fifth Year Compliance Certification, a Fifth Year Follow up Report, and a QEP Impact Report.  This review does not typically include a site visit, but is just as important as our decennial reaffirmations.  If we do well there will be no additional reports to SACSCOC until reaffirmation.  If the committee identifies issues with our materials, we could end up with monitoring or sanctions such as warning or probation. I am confident that we will do well, however there is much work to be done over the next two years.  Our report is due in March of 2018.  Over the next couple of months committees will be created to assist in the work of the Fifth Year Interim Review.

As we approach our review, SACSCOC is conducting a review of the Principles of Accreditation.  In her “State of the Commission” address during the SACSCOC Annual Meeting in December, President Belle Wheelan mentioned that a Principles Review Committee had been appointed to represent the membership in its review of the Commission’s current standards and to solicit comments from the membership, peer evaluators, Commission staff, and the public regarding the standards’ effectiveness and relevancy.  SACSCOC has created two instruments for comment:  (1) a multiple-choice questionnaire with some open-ended opportunities for comment and (2) an open-ended format for comment on any/all/part of the standards as well as the review process itself.  Changes made to the Principles of Accreditation through this process could affect the standards we respond to in our Fifth Year Interim Review, so I will be carefully watching this process.

I will be crafting a response to these instruments for the university. If you would like to comment on the principles please notify me so that I can include your input and create one document for our institution rather than multiple responses.

If you would be interested in participating on the committees for our Fifth Year Interim Review, please contact me by March 29th.  I am also happy to speak with you about the principles in general, accreditation, or the fifth year review.