The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) announced today (Dec. 9) during its 113th annual meeting that it has reaffirmed the accreditation of The University of Texas at Austin. The university is accredited until its next review in 2018.
Accreditation is the primary means by which colleges, universities and programs assure quality to students and the public. Accredited status is a signal to students and the public that an institution or program meets fundamental standards in areas such as its faculty, curriculum student services and libraries. Evidence of fiscal stability also is required for accredited status.
“This accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools provides assurance to our students and other constituents that their university continues to meet the high standards for education not only required by the commission, but which we demand of ourselves,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin.
“Preparation for our reaffirmation of accreditation was truly a team effort and involved hundreds of faculty, staff, and administrators over a several year period,” said Vice Provost Neal E. Armstrong, who oversaw preparation for the accreditation review.
“I am extremely grateful for the campus-wide support given to this effort and the cooperation we received,” Armstrong said. “I am particularly grateful to Paul Woodruff, dean of undergraduate studies, and his staff for development of the Quality Enhancement Plan to strengthen the university’s core curriculum while establishing a shared intellectual experience for students at the university.
“While we have achieved this milestone, there are institutional effectiveness activities that SACS expects all accredited universities to sustain over time. Those include assessment of undergraduate and graduate programs and the basic educational requirement, educational and administrative support units, activities related to strategic planning, faculty credentialing, substantive changes and others.”
Armstrong said the review involved submittal of a Compliance Certification Report in September 2007 and review of that report by an Off-Site Review Committee in November 2007. The university also had to submit a Focused Report and the Quality Enhancement Plan in February 2008. Those documents and programs related to them were reviewed during the On-Site Review Committee visit in April 2008.
Accreditation is required for universities to have access to federal funds, such as student aid and other federal programs. Federal student aid funds are available to students only if the institution or program they are attending is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization.
The accreditation criteria require that the number of full-time faculty members in an institution is adequate to support its mission and that the institution has adequate faculty resources to ensure the quality and integrity of its academic programs. It also requires that the institution employ competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution. The institution must demonstrate that its faculty (tenured and tenure-track faculty as well as non-tenure track faculty) have the credentials to teach what they are asked to teach.
Accreditation in the United States is built upon a core set of traditional academic values and beliefs. It is a voluntary and self-regulatory mechanism of the higher education community that plays a significant role in fostering public confidence in the educational enterprise, in maintaining standards, in enhancing institutional effectiveness and in improving higher education.