SACS and Reaffirmation
SACS is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools which is a private, nonprofit voluntary organization that was founded in 1895 in Atlanta, Georgia. One part of SACS is the Commission on Colleges (COC) which has the responsibility of carrying out the accreditation process for institutions of higher learning in the Southern region. Parker University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the doctorate and bachelor degree, and certificate programs.
The mission of the COC is “the enhancement of educational quality throughout the southern region and the improvement of the effectiveness of the member institutions by ensuring that they meet standards that are established by the higher education community and address the needs of society and students.”
Member institutions are reviewed every ten years to determine if they meet the requirements and standards for accreditation that have been established and agreed upon by member institutions. Parker’s next review will take place in March of 2012.
Reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission will signify that Parker University has a mission appropriate to higher education and has the resources, programs and services to accomplish and sustain that mission. It will also signify that the institution maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and are appropriate to the degrees the university offers as well as demonstrating how well it fulfills its stated mission.
Parker University has to prepare two documents to be submitted to the Commission on Colleges (COC) in advance of the scheduled time of the reaffirmation.
- The Certificate of Compliance
The Certificate of Compliance will describe the self-assessment that the university is currently performing on all aspects of its operations to determine how the university is meeting all of the requirements described in “The Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement.” It will also certify the judgment of the university as to how well these requirements are being met.
- Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is found in Core Requirement 2.12 of the COC document on “Reaffirmation of Accreditation.”
This requirement is the expression of the SACS core concept that the enhancement of student learning should be “at the heart of the mission of all institutions of higher learning.”
In the development of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Parker University will be performing a number of steps. The first is the solicitation of ideas from all the stakeholders of the college community about possible topics that the college could use as its QEP. The second is the final selection of the idea that a committee (of college stakeholders) considers is the best topic for the QEP. The third is the development of a plan for the selected QEP leading to the submission of this plan for its approval by the COC. The QEP is to be submitted to the COC 4-6 weeks in advance of the scheduled on-site review. For Parker University that will be in March of 2012.
The Review Process
- Off-Site Peer Review
This is performed by a committee that will review the certificate of compliance to determine whether the institution is meeting all of the accreditation requirements. The off-site committee will prepare a report describing how well the institution is complying with the requirements and any concerns identified in the review process. This report will be sent to the on-site peer review committee and university.
- On-site Peer Review
This is a committee that will visit the college to evaluate any issues with the Certificate of Compliance that were identified by the off-site review committee. The on-site committee will also evaluate the QEP and determine whether or not it is acceptable. The committee will then produce a report of its findings, particularly any concerns with compliance and make its determination on whether or not the QEP is acceptable. This report will be sent to the SACS COC.
- Review by the COC
The Committee on Compliance and Reports will review the reports made by the review Committees. Any concerns described in the reports and the response by the institution to those concerns will be reviewed. The committee will make their recommendations to the Executive Council for review. The Executive Council will send its recommendation for what action should be taken to the full Commission. The Commission makes the final decision on reaffirmation for accreditation of Parker College and notifies the institution.