The university responded to a warning for the university from its accrediting organization after a review of the ACU Dallas program.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) gives the university regional accreditation based on criteria like staffing, finances and student services. The university will submit its five-year review to the SACS governing board later this year. But to receive accreditation for the Dallas campus, the university asked SACS to approve of it as a “branch campus” ahead of the five-year review, said Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost.
“We are appreciative of our longstanding accreditation of ACU through SACS,” Rhodes said. “This type of regional accreditation is an expected standard for all public and private universities.”
The SACS board sent a team to conduct a site visit at ACU Dallas as part of a campus review process. The visit resulted in a formal warning to the university to hire more faculty members for the new campus, Rhodes said. For example, he said, the Doctor of Nursing Practice only had one faculty member and five students. Although the faculty-student ratio worked for teaching purposes, the SACS board wanted the university to have at least two faculty members for that program.
“When they looked at everything, we met their standards,” Rhodes said. “The one thing that we needed to address was in this area of faculty. We need to address this area to be in full compliance and the avenue to show that we addressed it is through this formal process.”
Although the university received a warning, Rhodes said he believes the university successfully corrected all the requirements and hired the required number of faculty. He said the SACS board gives a two-year deadline, but the university wanted to stay ahead of deadlines and make corrections quickly.
“They understandably want to ensure that we are keeping pace with the number of faculty that we need to meet student demand and that we have met the standards of staffing that we have proposed,” Rhodes said.
In two years, the Dallas campus has grown to 1,038 students and the university has had to address a high demand with more faculty. Most of the students are attending graduate programs online from throughout the country and even internationally, Rhodes said. The students are mostly non-traditional students who are working full-time while getting a degree.
“What I’m relieved and pleased with is that we’ve been able to keep pace with this growth,” Rhodes said.