SACSCOC stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is the accrediting body for educational institutions within Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America. The Commission on Colleges is the division of SACSCOC that oversees accreditation of higher education within the region.
Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of the Commission on Colleges, offers an alternate meaning for the SACS acronym that conveys the essence of higher education: Students Are Central to Success.
Accreditation by the SACS Commission on Colleges means that a university has:
According to the Commission on Colleges, the "product of accreditation is a public statement of an institution's continuing capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed upon requirements. The statement of an institution's accreditation status with the Commission on Colleges is also an affirmation of an institution's continuing commitment to the Commission's principles and philosophy of accreditation." (See the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement.)
Being accredited and in good standing with SACSCOC assures our constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of CAU and its programs. It also allows CAU students to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid and ensures transfer of credits between CAU and other institutions.
Every ten years, colleges and university accredited by SACSCOC must demonstrate that they comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation and with the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges. This process is called reaffirmation of accreditation. It is a two-year process of rigorous self-evaluation that culminates in two stages of peer review conducted by senior level faculty and administrators at other institutions accredited by SACSCOC.
CAU is beginning the current reaffirmation process in fall 2013, leading up to submission of our Compliance Certification Report in September 2015 and our Quality Enhancement Plan in early 2016. A team of peer evaluators visits the campus in spring 2016 and the Commission votes on whether to reaffirm CAU’s accreditation in December 2016.
Anything less than full reaffirmation potentially means:
If the peer evaluators working on behalf of the Commission on Colleges find that CAU is deficient in some area, they can offer recommendations with penalties that range from requiring Monitoring Reports to public sanction, denial of reaffirmation and even removal of membership. While CAU does not anticipate major problems with reaffirmation, it is important for everyone to understand how serious the consequences are - and just how important the process is.
Shortly after CAU’s last reaffirmation in 2006, the Commission on Colleges revised the first edition of the Principles of Accreditation.
This time we operate according to the "new" SACSCOC Principles. The main differences are:
Everyone at CAU is ultimately involved in SACSCOC reaffirmation. You may serve on a committee, offer input about the QEP, help a Compliance Team member locate information or give directions to a peer evaluator. But it's what you do every day - setting goals and making changes based on assessment results, following policies and procedures, documenting what you do, acting with integrity, and simply doing your job - that makes the reaffirmation process run smoothly and successfully.
The formal committees for the reaffirmation process include:
Other Ancillary Committees:
Accreditation is a process founded on peer review. The off-site and on-site peer evaluators come from member institutions that are accredited by SACSCOC. The trustees of the Commission on Colleges, elected by the member institution presidents, have the final vote on our reaffirmation of accreditation.
There are three review and response phases in the reaffirmation process.
In 2013-14, we will conduct a compliance audit, which involves reviewing institutional policy documents and gathering and analyzing data related to each of the standards in the Principles of Accreditation. The Compliance Steering Committee and Leadership Team will address any issues that need attention. In 2014-15, we will write the Compliance Certification Report, select a QEP topic and develop the QEP. In 2015-16, we will submit the final Compliance Certification Report and prepare the final QEP and Focused Report. In spring 2016, we will have an on-site visit of peer evaluators. A more detailed timeline is available on this site, and there will be updates as we progress.
Clark Atlanta University is responsible for arranging all transportation, meals and housing for the on-site campus visit. This includes technology support, working space in the hotel and on campus, and detailed schedules for each peer evaluator.
An on-site visit Hospitality Team will manage all of these logistical arrangements.
The Principles of Accreditation went into effect in January 2004, and there have been several revisions since that time. The Commission on Colleges expects integrity to govern CAU's operation and for the university to make reasonable and responsible decisions consistent with the spirit of integrity in all matters. There are 12 broad-based Core Requirements, 14 Comprehensive Standards with a large number of more specific requirements, and 9 Federal Requirements. We are expected to comply with the approximately 90 standards in the Principles.
The Compliance Certification Report includes an institutional summary to introduce the peer evaluators to Clark Atlanta University and narratives for each of the standards in the Principles of Accreditation.
Each section will include:
TracDat is the online web-based software Clark Atlanta University uses for assessment and planning. The Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research maintains assessment reporting schedules and offers training and support for TracDat. The Institutional Effectiveness Reports (expected outcomes, assessment tools and method, analysis and interpretation, and use of results) stored in TracDat will be used as supporting documentation for parts of the Compliance Certification Report.
You can help by responding to requests for documentation, providing input about the QEP, acknowledging and supporting the work of the reaffirmation teams and committees, staying informed through this website, and asking questions about anything you don't understand. Our success depends on collective dedication to this important endeavor.