Friday, March 7, 2014

Beginning the Accreditation Reaffirmation Process

Our 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is coming up in the next few years, and work is getting started now. 

As a peer-reviewed process that confirms quality of the education our students receive, the accreditation process is vital to the future of LeTourneau University. 

It is a labor and time-intensive project, but one that affords us the opportunity to review and refine what we do and improve how we do it, as well as giving us opportunity to share the successes of the things God has done and is doing at LETU.
 
The reaffirmation process is focused on demonstrating that we as a university comply with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement updated in 2012 and found on the SACS website.  The principles provide guidance to universities regarding standards colleges must meet concerning education, governance, faculty, support services, and library, physical and financial resources.

I have commissioned a Reaffirmation Team to conduct an internal audit on our ability to document compliance to these principles. Dr. Stephanie Kirschmann, John Lommel, and Dr. Pam Johnson will be leading our reaffirmation efforts. They began work in February.  Lommel has begun meeting with all of the departments concerning areas that specifically need to be mindful of compliance. Our onsite visit from SACS will occur in Spring 2016, with our 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation decision expected in December 2016.  A detailed timeline can be found on our website.

Assuring that we are accomplishing our mission is key to the reaffirmation process.  As a result, we will be reviewing our mission statement as a part of this work. It's the beginning of the process of updating our strategic plan as our current plan was meant to guide us to 2015. 

Much of this process focuses on institutional improvement, which will require that we develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that focuses specifically on how we can improve the education and learning experience of our students.  As a Christ-centered university, we want to do and be the best that we can be, to the glory of God.

Over the next several months, we will be gathering broad-based input from our constituencies-including students, faculty staff and alumni-with our LETU Teaching Faculty Organization leading the development of potential QEP plans.  Several topics will be considered and one will be selected by the President's Cabinet  in February 2015.  The full plan will then be developed and we will submit it to the onsite team as early as October 2015.  It will be a key portion of our onsite SACS review in Spring of 2016.  The implementation timeline will be driven by the topic selected, but is likely to begin in Fall of 2016.

The QEP and SACSCOC reaffirmation of accreditation cause us to reflect, review policies, identify weaknesses and determine action steps for the future to sharpen us as a university.