Reaffirmation of Accreditation
Valdosta State University is currently preparing for reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the recognized regional accrediting body in eleven southern U.S. states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America. It offers accreditation to institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master, and/or doctoral degrees.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” Accreditation encourages public confidence in higher education; it is pivotal in keeping institutions up to date in matters of institutional effectiveness and best practices. It also allows colleges and universities to be certain that accredited institutions have complied with a common set of requirements and standards. In short, accreditation from SACS-COC means that VSU students are eligible for federal financial aid; their course credits can be accepted for transfer at other institutions; and the degrees VSU awarded are recognized as valid.
Every ten years, VSU undergoes reaffirmation of its accreditation. To maintain accreditation with the COC, VSU must comply with the standards contained in the 2008 Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the COC on faculty and staff qualifications, facilities management, distance learning, financial stability, student support, and many other issues. The Principles serve as consistent guidelines for peer review, representing the collective judgment of the membership on standards appropriate for the assurance of quality in higher education.
Reaffirmation is a vigorous, intensive process of self-examination and documentation—we not only have to state that we comply with the standards, but we also have to prove how we do it. So while SACS will make its final decision regarding VSU's reaffirmation in December 2010, the preparations for that decision began in 2007, with the selection of the Compliance Certification Coordinator, the organization of the SACS Leadership Team, and a pre-audit of VSU’s current state of readiness. The reaffirmation process will build in intensity up to the submission of our Compliance Certification in August 2009, followed by the submission of our Quality Enhancement Plan in February 2010 and the visit of the SACS On-Site Review Team to the campus in April 2010. (For a more detailed timeline of VSU’s Reaffirmation process, click here.)
In its Handbook for Reaffirmation of Accreditation, SACS-COC describes eight basic steps to reaffirmation:
- The Commission staff conducts an orientation for the institution’s Leadership Team. Completed.
- The institution prepares and submits its Compliance Certification and relevant supporting documentation (and annual institutional profiles) to the Commission on Colleges. Completed.
- The Off-Site Review Committee reviews the Compliance Certification and supporting documentation attesting to the institution’s determination of its compliance with all Core Requirements and Comprehensive Standards with the exception of Core Requirement Twelve, which relates to the Quality Enhancement Plan. The Off- Site Committee prepares a report of its findings. Completed.
- The Commission staff communicates to the institution the findings of the report prepared by the Off-Site Review Committee. The institution may choose to submit a Focused Report in response to the committee’s findings. The On-Site Committee receives a written copy of the Off-Site Committee’s report and the institution’s Focused Report, if one is submitted. Completed.
- The institution submits its Quality Enhancement Plan to the Commission. Completed.
- The On-Site Review Committee visits the institution to review and determine the acceptability of the QEP, to review areas of noncompliance and other areas of concern noted by the Off-Site Committee, and to review any areas of concern that surface during the visit. The On-Site Committee submits its report to the Commission. Conducted April 6-8, 2010.
- The institution prepares a response to the On-Site Committee’s report and submits it to the Commission. Completed July 2010.
- The Commission reviews the findings included in the report of the On-Site Committee and the institution’s response and takes action on the institution’s reaffirmation.
The Commission announces the institutions it has reaffirmed at the SACS Annual Conference, held in early December 2010.
Page revised July 19, 2012.