Frequently Asked Questions about SACS
What is SACS?
SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) serves as UTC’s regional accreditation body. SACS provides:
- A Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, the area that accredits elementary, middle and secondary schools and
- the Commission on Colleges, the group that accredits degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern states.
“The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees”
--SACS Commission on Colleges, Retrieved November 12, 2008 from http://www.sacscoc.org/
To gain or to maintain SACS accreditation, UTC must adhere to standards listed in the “Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement” and the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges.
--posted on the SACS web page at http://www.sacscoc.org/
Accreditation for higher education institutions is a voluntary process. The process ensures that institutions maintain standards, follow a common set of guidelines and use data to improve the effectiveness of the institution.
Our SACS accreditation process will study data and determine whether UTC is meeting the terms of its mission, goals and if the University is dealing with critical institutional issues. Faculty and staff from other higher education institutions will determine whether UTC is in compliance. These accreditation reviewers are known as peer reviewers.
What is a QEP?
The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is the document UTC will compile, based on student data. The QEP describes a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issues related to enhancing UTC student learning.
Why is this important?
Institutional assessment will be analyzed and documented in the QEP. As a plan is established, students will benefit from the way UTC improves the process to provide education. Faculty and staff will access data from SACS reaccreditation to improve student learning, using best practices.
How has the reaffirmation changed since UTC’s last accreditation?
Many UTC faculty and staff participated in the SACS reaccreditation process ten years ago, so they have some understanding of what is required. However, changes to the process were made in 2002 and were finalized in 2007-08.
Visit the following website for a brief description of the changes. A link to the full description changes in policies and guidelines is also provided on this webpage:
How will UTC prepare for the SACS reaccreditation?
Data, evidence and documentation will be collected from all over the University to demonstrate how decisions and changes are made to improve student learning.
Spring 2009 Semester (year 1)
- Compliance Certification Group will analyze and interpret Core Requirements and Comprehensive Standards to determine each aspect and what information/data needs to be assembled.
- QEP group begins to hold meetings with campus constituents regarding topic for QEP. Review best practices in potential areas/issues as it relates to the UTC Strategic Plan. QEP group to plan ways to build institutional consensus on a topic of choice.
- June: Orientation of the Leadership Team and Financial Officer
- Compliance Certification Group will analyze, interpret, and evaluate data to make a decision on UTC’s level of compliance.
- QEP group begins to hold meetings with campus constituents regarding topic for QEP. Review best practices in the potential areas/issues, as it ties to the UTC Strategic Plan. Build institutional consensus on topic of choice. Draft initial QEP w/evaluation plan.
- SACS annual meeting
Spring 2010 (year 2)
- Compliance Certification Group analyzes, interprets, and evaluates data to make a decision on level of compliance. Begin to write/edit report.
- QEP review by campus community; feedback gathered and put into the plan. Implementation and evaluation plans finalized for report writing.
- Compliance Certification Group completes first draft report and circulates for review by the campus community.
- QEP first draft completed.
- QEP first draft circulated for review by campus community. Revisions completed by early December.
- Compliance Certification due by September 10.
- Off-site review conducted 2nd week in November.
- Focused report(s) written/edited, if necessary.
- SACS annual meeting
Spring 2011 (year 3)
- Final QEP due a minimum of six weeks before the on-site visit (due week of February 7, 2011).
- SACS on-site review visit & QEP review: April 5- 7, 2011.
How will we collect the necessary data?
Faculty, staff and students will be called upon to provide information. In the coming months, look for the SACS online newsletter to describe the ways data is collected in various offices and academic departments.
Want to HELP?
We NEED faculty, staff and students to help us gather and analyze data and to help us pull the pieces together for our report. To volunteer, contact Karen Adsit (425-4026; Karen-Adsit@utc.edu ) or Jocelyn Sanders (425-4515; Jocelyn-Sanders@utc.edu ).