University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas logo

SACSCOC Reaffirmation of Accreditation 2015

The University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees.

View Accreditation Statement (SACSCOC)

What does accreditation by SACSCOC mean?

Accreditation by SACSCOC means that UST:

Has a mission appropriate to higher education,

Has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain the mission,

Maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives,

SACSCOC is the regional accrediting body for degree-granting higher education institutions in 11 Southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. SACS, founded in 1895, is a private, voluntary, nonprofit organization dedicated to the enhancement of educational quality and improvement of institutional effectiveness through peer review and institutional self-regulation,

SACSCOC sets forth requirements for initial and continued accreditation of colleges and universities in its publication The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.  Once an institution is accredited, SACSCOC maintains a continuous cycle of review at the following intervals:

  • Initial accreditation
  • Fifth-year interim reaffirmation of accreditation
  • Tenth-year reaffirmation of accreditation

How does SACSCOC evaluate institutions for accreditation?

To be accredited, SACSCOC evaluates institutions on their:

  • Compliance with the Principle of Integrity
  • Compliance with Core Requirements
  • Compliance with Comprehensive Standards
  • Compliance with additional Federal Requirements
  • Compliance with policies of the Commission

The SACSCOC tenth-year reaffirmation covers all aspects of the university’s operations – mission, policies, procedures, programs, resources and services.  The reaffirmation process has five components that involve intensive internal and external reviews over an 18-month period:

  • Compliance Certification
  • Quality Enhancement Plan
  • Off-Site Review
  • On-Site Review
  • SACSCOC Board of Trustees Review
  • SACSCOC Board of Trustees Notification

The Compliance Certification is an intensive self-study in which UST takes a serious and reflective look at the quality and effectiveness of its programs and services and judges its own adherence to the over 80+ principles.  The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), developed by a broad-based representation of the UST community, is a detailed action plan to improve students’ learning outcomes or the learning environment.

The Off-Site Review, by SACSCOC, includes an evaluation of UST's Compliance Certification document and preparation of preliminary findings about UST’s compliance.  The On-Site Review performed by SACSCOC is extensive and begins before their representatives come to campus.   

The On-Site Review includes an examination of the Off-Site committee’s preliminary findings, a separate in-depth assessment of UST’s Compliance Certification, a thorough review of UST's QEP and how it was developed, a visit to a sample of UST’s off-campus locations where classes are offered, a review of third-party comments, and an exit conference with key UST personnel.  The SACSCOC Board of Trustees makes its decision and posts it to the SACSCOC website.  The three possible outcomes are:

  • Reaffirmation of accreditation
  • Denial of reaffirmation
  • Removal from membership

SACSCOC Leadership Team at UST

The Southern Association of School and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires that institutions form an Institutional Leadership Team to manage and validate the internal institutional assessment of compliance.

These individuals have a high level of responsibility for the internal compliance process and the integrity of UST’s compliance documents.

SACSCOC recommends that this leadership team include, at the minimum, the chief executive officer, chief academic officer, accreditation liaison and a representative faculty liaison. The SACSCOC also points out the importance of an institution’s governing board in supporting and funding the compliance process.

The UST Institutional Leadership Team consists of five UST administrative officers pictured below. In addition to the SACSCOC recommended team members, UST’s team includes our Associate Vice President of Institutional Assessment & Effectiveness and the Chief Financial Officer. Our leadership team attended the leadership orientation conducted by the SACSCOC in Atlanta in June 2013.

SACSCOC Leadership Team

Dr. Robert Ivany
Letter from the President

Dr. Dominic Aquila
Provost, SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison
Letter from the Provost

Dr. Siobhan Fleming
Associate Vice President Institutional Assessment & Effectiveness

Dr. John Starner
Associate Dean, School of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Chris Evans
Chair, Theology, SACSCOC Faculty Liaison

Elizabeth Condic
Vice President of Finance

SACSCOC outlines some key responsibilities of the Institutional Leadership Team:

  • Coordinating and managing the university-wide internal review process.
  • Coordinating the completion of the Compliance Certification that is required by SACSCOC.

Steering Committee Members

The Southern Association of School and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) advises that there can be considerable variability in the number of individuals called upon to support the development of the two key compliance documents: Compliance Certification and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).  This variability comes from the size and complexity of the institution. 

The UST Steering Committee is comprised of nine UST faculty and administrators who are responsible for overseeing the development of the compliance certification report for the principles related to their areas of university operations. UST's Steering Committee works closely with our Office of Institutional Assessment & Effectiveness in the reaffirmation process. The Steering Committee oversees the work of the writing teams for the principles under their area of responsibility and meets regularly to review the progress of the compliance report.

Key responsibilities of the Steering Committee are:

  • Understanding the SACSCOC principles and all related policies, guidelines and good practices.
  • Understanding the evidentiary requirements related to the principles.
  • Developing a strategy, a timeline, and a response team.
  • Managing the writing teams in the collection, compilation, and analysis of data and information needed for compliance.
  • Communicating questions, progress, or impediments to the UST SACCCOC Leadership Team.
  • Sharing ideas and strategies and updates at planning team meetings.
  • Objectively assessing UST's compliance and opportunities for improvement.
  • Preparing the full narrative and supporting documentation for assigned principles.
  • Responding to any additional requests for information.

Steering Committee Members

Dr. Dominic Aquila

Dr. Catherine Barber
Associate Professor, School of Education

Dr. Lawrence DiPaolo
Assistant Professor, School of Theology

Dr. J.P. Faletta
Associate Professor, Political Science

Dr. Siobhan Fleming
Associate Vice President Institutional Assessment & Effectiveness

Dr. Beena George
Dean, Cameron School of Business

Dr. William Harris
Associate Professor, Environmental Sciences

Dr. Ravi Srinivas
Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs

Dr. Kelly Vandenberg
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

The focus of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for the University of St. Thomas is the development and deployment of a university-wide writing program for all incoming freshmen.

Lawrence DiPaolo, Jr.   
Chair,  Associate Dean, School of Theology

Siobhan Fleming             
Vice Chair, Assoc. Vice President, Office of Institutional Effectiveness

Christopher Evans          
Vice Chair, Assoc. Dean and Assoc. Professor, School of Theology

Catherine Barber            
Associate Professor, School of Education

Patricia McKinley           
Vice President for Student Affairs

Lindsey McPherson       
Office of Student Success

Andrew Hayes 
Asst. Professor, Department of Theology

Joe Goetz           
Information Literacy Librarian, Doherty Library

Vicky Alleman  
Vice President for Marketing Communications and Enrollment Management

Linda McKendree
Dean of Scholarships and Financial Aid

Shannon Forbes              
Assoc. Professor, Department of English

Ginni Whitten 
Director of Resource Development

Lee Holm           
Director, Office of Student Advising

Joe Striby           
Visiting Instructor, Department of Philosophy

SACSCOC Resources

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools website includes information about the requirements for institutional accreditation and provides executive summaries of Quality Enhancement Plans developed by graduate institutions.

Planning documents for the 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation:

The Principles of Accreditation

The Principles of Accreditation​Any university that is accredited by SACSCOC must be in compliance with the Principles of Accreditation, which are the foundations for an institution's quality enhancement.  

​This document includes all of the nearly 100 principles as of 2012

The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation

The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation​All SACSCOC-accredited universities must apply for reaffirmation of accreditation every ten years. The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation is designed to guide institutions through the reaffirmation process, and outlines the four major steps in the quest for reaffirmation in (1) building a foundation of understanding as the institution starts the process, (2) preparing for the off-site review, (3) preparing for the on-site review, and (4) completing the reaffirmation process.

The Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation

The Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation​The SACSCOC reaccreditation process is a major undertaking for any university. The Resource Manual for the Principles of Accreditation is designed (1) to provide guidance to institutions as they seek to identify strategies for documenting compliance with commission requirements and standards and (2) to be a resource in the training of review team members and trustees as they strive to apply the Principles fairly and consistently.