The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accepted ACU’s plan to increase research literacy across campus as a part of the university’s accreditation process.
Members of the SACS visited ACU on Monday through Wednesday to complete the on-site evaluation, the last phase of the accreditation process. They gave their recommendations to Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, and a committee of faculty members representing ACU on Wednesday.
SACS will give its official report at its annual meeting in December, but Dr. Phyllis Bolin, associate professor of mathematics, said the informal review was encouraging.
“The SACS Onsite Committee was very complimentary about their visit to ACU,” Bolin said in an email. “We are thrilled with the results.”
While the SACS reviewed ACU’s progress over the last 10 years, the university’s greatest challenge was demonstrating its plans for the future, Bolin said. The SACS has recently required colleges and universities to put together a Quality Enhancement Plan to meet accreditation standards.
Bolin served as the chairman of the QEP Development Team. The team produced a plan called “Pursuit,” which centers on increasing students’ research literacy. The QEP will use the CORE curriculum to introduce underclassmen to the basics of research, and then give students a chance to participate in research as they go deeper into their majors, Bolin said.
“There will be opportunities outside of the classroom and in the classroom for students to do research with a faculty member,” Bolin said. “To facilitate that, we’ve helped to set up grants professors can apply for that provides stipends for professors and students to cover their extra work.”
Grants for students and faculty to perform and present research will be available in the fall, Bolin said. Each major is encouraged to develop or revise a capstone project students can perform before graduation.
“Pursuit” is designed to allow students to understand and experience how research is preformed in their field of study, Bolin said. The research will allow students to find their unique passions within their fields of study and open doors for employment and graduate school, Bolin said.
Students have had positive reactions to the QEP, especially to the grants it provided, said Jeremy Foo, sophomore political science and public relations major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was one of several students Bolin asked to represent the QEP to students at the Campus Center last week.
Many science students Foo spoke to said they were already involved in research, and other students were in programs that enabled them to perform research. Foo said he believed “Pursuit” would be most beneficial to freshmen and students who didn’t understand the value of undergraduate research.
“I saw this as an opportunity for students to take ownership of their degree,” Foo said. “Research allows you to become an expert in your field.”
Foo said he believes that the QEP will work together with ACU’s 21st-century vision to enable students to be outstanding world leaders. However, to be most effective, both students and professors will have to take the time necessary to produce quality research.
“I really hope everyone takes this opportunity,” Foo said.