Dear East Georgia State College Faculty and Staff,
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college is moving steadily forward with its decennial accreditation process. The goal of this process is, of course, reaffirmation of the college’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
Successful completion of this process is one of the college’s top priorities during the coming 2020-2021 academic year. It is critical to our reputation as a high-quality institution of higher education. It is a condition precedent to our ability to offer federal student financial aid to our deserving students.
As you know well, this rigorous process takes over 2 ½ years from start to finish. The process culminates with a visit to the college by a SACSCOC reaffirmation committee composed of approximately 8 of our colleagues from peer institutions in the southern United States. The committee is chaired by a college president. The reaffirmation committee will be here in the first week of October 2020. During that visit, members of the committee will visit Swainsboro, Statesboro and Augusta. During the visit, the committee members will want to meet with many of you. We, of course, do not know who they will choose to interview until their arrival so it is critical that all of you understand the process. The following presents a brief overview.
A high percentage of the college’s faculty and staff are now actively engaged in completing one of the two major components of the process:
- Demonstration of the college’s compliance with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation.
- Completion of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which will focus the college’s attention over the next five years on achieving the goals of the plan. This requirement of a QEP is an element of the accreditation process which makes the process in the southern United States unique and rigorous. This element is not commonly found in other regions of the U.S.
Demonstrating compliance with the Principles of Accreditation, is a multi-step process. The first step in this process was completed in March of this year: Our compliance certification was filed. This document, hundreds of pages in length, was filed with SACSCOC. As required, it addressed each SACSCOC Principle in depth and provided documentary evidence of compliance with each Principle. For example, official transcripts of all faculty who taught courses in each of two semesters were provided to document their qualification to teach the courses assigned to them.
The next step in the compliance process is review of the compliance certification (called the off-site review) by a group of our colleagues at an off-site location. This review occurred later than originally scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Accordingly, we received the report of the off-site committee only a couple of weeks ago – later than originally planned. We must file a response to this report in the first week of August. This means that many faculty and staff will be intensely engaged in preparing our focused report over the next few weeks. I deeply appreciate the hard work and effort going into preparation of this focused report with a compressed schedule. This is critical and important work because it will shape the reaffirmation committee’s visit this October.
Preparation of the QEP is the other key step in the process. This QEP must be filed with SACSCOC at the same time as our focused report. This is critical for two reasons. First, it focuses our college on a critical aspect of student learning for a 5-year period. In EGSC’s plan, this will focus our efforts on creation of learning communities. Second, it is critical because the completion of a QEP meeting the standards set by SACSCOC is a condition precedent to reaffirmation of the college’s accreditation. Again, I deeply appreciate the hard work end effort going into the preparation of this QEP. I strongly believe this work and effort will pay dividends for the college over the next five years.
All of this is to say that many of our faculty and staff have been and will continue over the next several months to pour many hours of time and extraordinary effort into this SACSCOC reaffirmation effort. This final stage of preparation for a SACSCOC reaffirmation committee visit is always an intense and stressful period. This year, it is particularly so because we are doing this in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accomplishing both a successful return to campus in fall 2020 and a successful reaffirmation committee visit in October is a lot to ask. However, I know that our EGSC community is up to the task and I thank all of you in advance for working through this challenging period with collegiality and good humor. We will get it done together.
Thanks for all you do for EGSC.
Please stay safe and healthy.
East Georgia State College