Members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges will travel to ACU in April to complete the peer review portion as part of ACU’s reaccreditations process.
In September 2010, Dr. Nancy Shankle, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said she and other members of ACU’s SACSCOC leadership completed the first part of the three-part accreditation process, sending a compliance certificate comprised of 256 pages of text, more than 1,000 attached documents and a flash drive of 14 gigabytes of data including things such as every faculty transcript and other documentations.
“It is a long process, but it’s also a huge process because we have to show compliance to criteria and it covers the whole university,” Shankel said.
After the certificate was sent to the SACSCOC, it was reviewed and in November sent back with a list of things not in compliance with standards. Shankel said out of 87 pieces, only 27 needed follow-up information. The second stage, completed Feb. 14, in the accreditation process was to send in a focused report of the 27 items in question.
The third stage of accreditation is the on-site peer review visiting committee where members from the SACSCOC who work for small, private, faith-based schools similar to ACU will come to campus to meet with faculty and tour areas of campus. The SACSCOC is comprised of state schools, private schools, small schools and big schools in the region that all vote on accreditation criteria, but only administrators and faculty members from schools similar to ACU in size and private status will represent the SACSCOC in the peer review process.
One additional piece of the university’s accreditation is the Quality Enhancement Plan, ACU’s plan for enhancing student learning for research literacy, said Dr. Phyllis Bolin, associate professor of mathematics.
People from all areas of the ACU community worked to focus the QEP around research literacy, but realized if they wanted to accomplish this plan, they’d have to define research literacy first.
In an attempt to define the term, group members identified three criteria:
First, if someone is to be research literate, they must be information literate, Bolin said. Second, students need to look inside their major and discover what creation of new knowledge looks like. Third, they had to answer the question, “Where do we take it from here?” Bolin said.
And the answer to the last question was teaming students and faculty together to work on research and projects.
“That’s where our QEP goes over and beyond other schools,” Bolin said. “At ACU the real important part that we’d like to implement is to have more and more students to work with faculty members in a mentoring situation doing research, doing scholarships or doing creative activities.”
Bolin said she hopes students take the new knowledge and share it with others in their field either through presentations at the Undergraduate Research Festival, at a regional or national conference or through publishing in a journal for their field.
“We’d like to see it go cross-campus to effect all students, yet prepare them better for their role after ACU whether its grad school or a professional occupation,” Bolin said. “Wherever they’re headed, working with faculty members, doing research and creative projects enhances ways employers look at them and helps them get ready for graduate school.”