Oakwood University, Huntsville, Ala., recently underwent its accreditation site visit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), February 20-23, 2023. Leslie Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., M.B.A., Oakwood University president, presented the results of the site visit to the faculty and staff. The University was fully accredited for another 10 years with only one minor recommendation, which was resolved immediately. The magnitude of the success experienced by the institution during this reaccreditation is reflected in the words of the SACSCOC On-site Visit Committee chair, who acknowledged that she had never been part of a visit that ended with almost 100% compliance during her several years of collaboration with SACSCOC.
Accreditation is crucial to universities, as it determines their eligibility to receive federal and state funds; their ability to transfer credits with other schools; and their ability to earn recognition from students, other universities, businesses, nonprofit, and government communities. Regional accreditation is the way that the federal government ensures compliance with federal laws and mandates for higher education as well.
The SACSCOC is a federal mandated higher education quality control structure that accredits colleges and universities in the southern region of the United States. It is an institutional accreditor that employs an accountable and transparent peer review process that assures educational quality and integrity, fosters continuous self-improvement, and promotes student success. The six core values of the SACSCOC are integrity, peer review/self-regulation, student learning, continuous quality improvement, accountability, and transparency.
Institutional regional accreditation remains the one main activity on every university campus that requires concerted effort, engagement, and involvement of all stakeholders — faculty, staff, students, administrators, and the Board of Trustees. The effort is overseen by the Office of the Provost and senior vice president through its Unit of Institutional Effectiveness, led by the director of institutional effectiveness.
Institutional accreditation or reaccreditation, as was the case for Oakwood recently, is a reassurance that an institution of higher education meets a series of quality standards. Accreditation standards require institutions to demonstrate that they adhere to good practices in higher education. Furthermore, accrediting agencies should be recognized by organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.
While the accreditation initiative was overseen by one office, its overall success depended on the contributions of all Oakwood constituents, from the Office of the President to the office managers and custodial workers who provided outstanding service during the visit. The University gives thanks to God for the unity, outstanding teamwork, and shared vision demonstrated by all constituents during the SACSCOC visit.
Oakwood University | June 2023