Auburn University was last accredited in 2004 and will be up for accreditation again in 2013.
In a meeting at Langdon Hall on Tuesday, Drew Clark, Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, spoke about the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation process.
Clark also discussed Auburn’s plans on remaining an accredited institution.
The process to keep accreditation is a tough one that requires much correspondence.
“I send letters to SACS about once a week and get one back about once a week except six-eight months later,” Clark said.
Auburn is currently accredited to award Bachelor’s, First Professional, Master’s, Educational Specialist and Doctor’s degrees.
This does not mean Auburn can offer these degrees in any field.
If Auburn decides to add a new program, the program must receive approval from SACS.
Auburn is currently obtaining accreditation for more programs.
There was a one-year delay in the last accreditation process.
“Recently we submitted a proposal for a Master’s level degree in nursing,” Clark said.
Accreditation is important for many reasons, especially financial.
The federal government will not give loans or grants to students or teachers at a non-accredited institution.
Clark said he believes Auburn will not lose its accreditation.
“When SACS looks at us, they don’t really see us the way we appear to ourselves in the mirror,” Clark said.
Things like research, something that Auburn considers to be important, hold little weight to SACS.
SACS accreditates schools as large as universities, but is also responsible to accreditate seminaries, stand-alone law schools, stand-alone medical schools, technical schools and community colleges.
SACS accredits schools in 11 states and has 804 member institutions.
Though SACS is tough, they are not around to punish schools.
“Our goal is to help schools stay accredited,” said Pamela Cravey, coordinator of communications and external affairs at SACS.
When going through the accreditation process, SACS is concerned with things like mission statements, qualified executive officers and effectiveness at meeting goals.
They are also concerned with a school’s financial situation and the resources available to students.
“Institutions that do (lose accreditation) typically do so for financial reasons,” Clark said.
SACS also requires that a competent instructor must be teaching every course at the school.
Auburn defines a competent instructor as someone who holds a master’s degree in the field they are teaching or parallel experience in their field.
GTA’s that have completed 18 graduate hours in the field they are teaching are also considered competent provided that they are overseen by someone in the field.
They are also required to be regularly assessed on their teaching ability and have in-service training in teaching.
The accreditation process will begin in September when Auburn sends their accreditation papers to SACS.
SACS officials will visit Auburn in March 2013 and a ruling will be officially announced at a meeting in December 2013.
“To my knowledge the flagship schools have not lost accreditation,” Cravey said.
Flagship schools include larger institutions like Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia.
“Auburn was around before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and Auburn will be around after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,” Drew said.
Auburn University has been an accredited institution since 1922, and has had continuous regional accreditation ever since.
More information on SACS and the entire accreditation process can be found at www.sacsoc.org.