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 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.
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.