A delegation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools arrived on campus Monday to begin a four-day evaluation of Murray State’s credentials and to decide if the University will remain accredited.
The University has been providing SACS with documentation for the past eight months prior to this comprehensive analysis on everything from academics, to athletics, to finances to student affairs. Over the course of the week, the SACS team looked at the programs Murray State offers, its retention and graduation rates, the faculty to student ratio, study abroad opportunities and its relationship with foreign universities among other qualities.
Tim Miller, interim president, said he feels optimistic about the proceedings. He said being accredited is important for a university because it tells students that the staff, faculty and education they are going to receive are of a high caliber.
“(Being accredited) says this University meets certain requirements: students are going to get a quality education and they’re going to get employed when they get out,” he said.
One of the areas in particular the SACS team is examining is Murray State’s new Quality Enhancement Plan, “Bringing Learning to Life,” which kicked off its first program Feb. 20.
The theme of the University’s QEP is experiential learning; learning that takes place outside of the classroom through internships, studying abroad and activities that give students real world experience. In other words, experiential learning through a third party outside the normal faculty-student relationship.
Adam Murray, one of the QEP’s directors, said preparing students for life after college is what attending Murray State is about.
The QEP will be exposed to students and integrated into the curriculum over the course of the next five years, aided by approximately 10 activities and workshops of varying sizes for students to participate in.
“The goal is that every student, no matter what their major, will have an opportunity to experience experiential learning,” Murray said. “Kind of a background goal is that the work that goes into promoting experiential learning becomes part of Murray State’s culture and something we do on a regular basis.”
SACS accredits universities in the states of Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia in addition to Kentucky every 10 years.
Jay Morgan, vice president of Academic Affairs, said Murray State has been preparing specifically for this evaluation for the past two and a half years. He said being accredited is especially important because it decides if the University can receive federal financial aid.
“The primary importance of being accredited is so all of our students can receive financial aid,” he said. “This is the single biggest factor because it affects so many of our students.”
On Thursday SACS officials will give Murray State some preliminary feedback about the University’s standing, but Morgan said they won’t receive a final report for another three to four weeks.
Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor