University prepares for SACS reaccreditation

Jay Morgan
Associate Provost

On Feb. 24 – 28 of 2014, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges will have an on-site visit of Murray State.

In an effort to prepare for the reaccreditation by SACS, faculty and staff have worked for the past two years in order to make the exchange of documents easier on everyone involved.

A task force of approximately 175 faculty and staff members has already been working on the documents required for the review. Jay Morgan, associate provost, said the combined documents would be approximately 50,000 pages. The “steering team” as Morgan called it, guided the task force in putting the paperwork together.

“We get accredited by SACS once every 10 years,” Morgan said. “2014 is the year for our reaffirmation, and it takes two to three years for the University to prepare for the long and in-depth process.”

Morgan said the task force has done a large portion of the work already, and he said 80 percent of the project would be completed by November. The other 20 percent, Morgan said will take extreme amounts of documentation.

“The last 20 percent will require very intricate details and will be difficult to put together,” he said. “The last 20 percent consists of the financial aid and assessment standards, the quality enhancement plan, the strategic plan, ect.”

The completed narratives, the final draft of the documents, are due to the Provost’s Office, from each of the teams on the task force on Dec. 14 of this year.    Morgan said SACS would make a preliminary visit at this time and provide informal feedback.

The task force will then use the months of February and March to make final corrections before the final version, approved by the Provost’s Office, is sent to SACS during September of 2013.

Morgan said the document will contain research and analysis of 96 standards created by SACS used to evaluate the education plan and its overall implementation at the University.

Morgan described the plethora of documents as the University’s thesis.

The 96 standards include 16 core requirement areas, 69 comprehensive standards and 11 federal requirements.

On Sept. 10, 2013, the 50,000-page document must be completed and sent to SACS headquarters for the off-site review.

“They’ll spend the better part of three months going page by page checking over our facts and figures,” Morgan said.

Following the submission of the document, faculty and staff will create and deliver to SACS a Quality Enhancement Plan in December 2013, which is a self-examination describing where developments and alterations can be made, Morgan said.

Morgan said in the spring of 2014, an on-site review team from SACS will stay briefly on campus in order to confirm the claims of the University-prepared document and bring inquiries created by the off-site reviewers.

The University will receive the decision from SACS in December of 2014.

Morgan said the process they used to establish the review this time would need to be altered for future accreditations.

“I hope we have set up a good format,” he said. “A good template for the University to follow when it is once again up for accreditation in 2024.”

Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.