After 18 months of probationary period, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools voted to remove the accreditation warning for the institution.
Robert Rhodes, provost, said the warning applied to the institution as a whole, both the main and branch campuses. During this time, the university was limited in its ability to introduce new programs.
“We weren’t restricted from doing so, but it was best that we focused our attention on addressing the warning,” Rhodes said. “We didn’t feel like we could introduce new programs when the previously identified weren’t fully addressed.”
As the university launched ACU Dallas approximately three years ago, Rhodes said they went through different levels of program review, one of which looked at individual programs and the way they were structured.
About a year later, SACS reviewed the branch campus, looking at it as a whole.
“If you were to consider Abilene Christian University as an umbrella, underneath that is the main campus in Abilene and a branch campus in Dallas,” Rhodes said.
The main campus had no recommendation for change.
The warning was issued after a site team from SACS visited the Dallas campus and identified concern about the number of students compared to the number of faculty. Rhodes said they were hiring faculty after students were admitted but before the classes were taught. Instead, it was recommended that they hire faculty before students were admitted.
“No student faced an issue regarding the number of faculty,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said he thought there would be a recommendation for follow-up conversations or visits, but the warning was fully removed without either.
Rhodes clarified that the university was accredited the entire period, but the warning identified a significant element that needed to be addressed.
“What we chose to do was prioritize addressing student enrollment,” Rhodes said. “Then we would move toward focusing on program expansion. Now we will turn our attention to new program development.”
SACS offers primary accreditation for the university, and separate secondary accreditors provide specific program approval underneath the primary accreditation SACS provides.