Delta State University received major news Tuesday with the reaffirmation of accreditation announcement by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
SACSCOC, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern states, officially announced the reaffirmation at its annual conference held in Nashville, Tenn. The reaffirmation continues the university’s accreditation for the next 10 years.
The commission’s mission focuses on the enhancement of educational quality, and it strives to improve effectiveness by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community to address the needs of society and students.
“The SACSCOC reaffirmation of Delta State’s accreditation is the best news we could receive as we close out the calendar year and approach the holidays,” said Delta State University President William N. LaForge.
“The SACSCOC stamp of approval is vital to the integrity and rigor of our academic programs, and it is critical to our reputation as a quality university,” LaForge added. “Across our campus, many of our professionals have worked very hard to help reach this goal — from being quality classroom instructors and supporting our academic mission, to conducting an immense amount of research and organizing thousands of pages of reports that supported our document submission to SACSCOC.”
The president saluted all of those involved with this important endeavor, especially Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies and SACSCOC accreditation liaison for Delta State.
“The approval by SACSCOC affirms what we know — Delta State University provides a quality educational experience in all of its aspects,” said Moon. “All efforts of accreditation reaffirmation rely on the entire campus. This wonderful outcome is a testament to the hard work that countless people around campus have put into achieving reaffirmation, especially the Institutional Research and Planning staff.”
Moon also reported positive news with SACSCOC’s approval of Delta State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “A World Class Experience: Improving Cultural Competency at Delta State.”
Part of the reaffirmation process includes the creation of a QEP, a five-year plan required by SACSCOC to improve aspects of student learning. Delta State’s focus is geared toward boosting cultural competency at the institution.
“All of our revisions to the QEP were accepted by the SACSCOC, which was a really positive response,” said Moon. “We are good to move forward implementing the QEP on campus as proposed.”
Dr. Charles McAdams, Delta State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, echoed the significance of the accreditation.
“SACSCOC accreditation is an important and essential external validation of the quality and health of our entire university, and we are very excited about the news of the reaffirmation of our accreditation,” said McAdams. “Students from Mississippi, and from all over the country, can see that we meet and exceed rigorous standards for accreditation.
“Our team, led by Dr. Beverly Moon, has done a magnificent job in shepherding us through this complex process. Delta State is committed to continually improving what we do to help our students succeed. I am pleased that we have been recognized for our efforts.”
Members of the SACSCOC visiting team were on campus in April to document Delta State’s compliance with core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal requirements. As a result of that visit, Delta State received six recommendations and was given five months to provide additional information related to those six areas.
Delta State submitted its response to SACSCOC in September. The information provided by the university satisfactorily addressed four of the recommendations. At Tuesday’s meeting, Delta State was made aware that it will be responsible for providing a monitoring report and informing SACSCOC on its progress in two areas: faculty competence and financial stability.
LaForge said the faculty competence issue deals with credentialing to teach specific courses and should be a relatively quick fix shown through proper reportage, while the financial stability response requires Delta State to demonstrate improvements in institutional budgeting and programming.
“The issue related to financial stability has to do with ensuring that our financial resources are sufficient to support the university’s mission, its programs and its student enrollment,” said LaForge. “Soon after arriving at Delta State, I recognized the disconnect between the university’s increase in spending and the downward trend in enrollment. The recent budget cuts and program eliminations process we have undertaken begin to address that problem, and this process was the important first step to showing our accreditors and our (Institutions of Higher Learning) board that our financial house is in order.
“This fall, we experienced the first increase in enrollment in eight years, and we believe this trend will continue. The combination of reducing expenses and increasing enrollment puts us on the right track to ensuring a successful future for Delta State University.”
SACSCOC initially accredited Delta State in 1930. Accreditation involves a multi-year process guided by the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and by the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges. Learn more about the organization at http://www.sacscoc.org.
Learn more about Delta State’s QEP at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/institutional-research-and-planning/sacs-2014-reaffirmation/quality-enhancement-plan-2014/.