Troy University is undergoing preparations for its accreditation reaffirmation process that occurs every 10 years.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) serves as the regional accrediting body and seeks “to assure the educational quality and improve the effectiveness of its member institutions,” according to its website.
Wendy Huckabee Broyles, director of assessment for the offices of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness, described the series of steps and timeline for the SACSCOC review.
“For the main review, we will submit our compliance certification in the fall of 2018, and that is a comprehensive report telling Troy’s story and what we do,” Broyles said.
There are principles and requirements that the University must abide by to be considered an accredited institution as outlined by SACSCOC.
A SACSCOC committee is currently revising the principles, and Broyles and others are awaiting the final draft in preparation for the main review.
“We are trying our hardest to keep on top of what is changing, when and how; there are a lot of moving parts,” Broyles said.
Reaffirmation is important because in order for an institution to receive federal financial aid, they must be regionally accredited.
“You have to have regional accreditation to get the financial aid,” Broyles said.
SACSCOC will conduct an off-site review of the main report that will be submitted in 2018 and provide feedback on aspects requiring further information.
A response report will be provided around December 2018, and SACSCOC will perform an onsite review on April 8-11, 2019.
“They will be looking for any holes in what we have submitted to see if they need more information and will receive a draft of our QEP,” Broyles said.
As a part of the SACSCOC review, a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is implemented and evaluated.
Dan Tennimon, coordinator for the offices of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness, is tasked with gathering student, staff and faculty ideas and suggestions for the QEP.
Most recently, Tennimon issued an email at the beginning of March to University employees and students seeking their input.
“We need for you to help us identify a new QEP that addresses an issue that will contribute to institutional improvement and enhance student learning for Troy University,” the email said. “Once identified and approved, this plan will be implemented over a five-year period.”
Tennimon said that he has received responses, but he is still looking to gain more.
“I have gotten about 150 responses back, and about 30 to 50 of those are from students,” Tennimon said.
The most common topics have been the improvement of student writing, life skills, internationalization and globalization, critical thinking, creativity and research.
Avalon Dudinsky, a junior marketing major from Panama City and academic life chair for the SGA, submitted a QEP proposal on behalf of the organization.
“My committee and I really felt as if one major gap for students coming to college is their basic life skills, and introducing a course focusing on finance, health and first aid and household skills would enhance the quality of education,” Dudinsky said.
Tennimon expressed that some students did not fully understand the purpose of the QEP which is to “enhance student learning,” and said that some of the student responses centered on parking or other campus improvements, not student learning.
“It has to be a big picture that will really affect and improve the university,” Tennimon said.
The most recent QEP from 2009-2015 was “Creating a Culture of Reading,” in which each college annually chose a common reading initiative to be integrated in the TROY 1100 or other general studies courses.
For 2013-14, the Sorrell College of Business chose “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle; Health and Human Services chose “Living a Life that Matters” by Harold S. Jushner; Arts and Sciences chose “Bad Blood” by James H. Jones; Communication and Fine Arts chose “The Best Early Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald” and Education chose “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews.
According to its page, the top student learning outcome of the plan was that “student reading activities will result in greater reading for enjoyment, appreciation and information.”
According to Tennimon, because the plan had not been developed from the ground up, the University was “cited” by SACSCOC because they had not sought to gather student and faculty input, and the plan did not necessarily quantify the learning outcomes.
Broyles said that there is an expectation from SACSCOC that the University will seek student and faculty input for the QEP.
“If we just decide this is the QEP and the students don’t care, they aren’t going to take part in it and there will be no value added to the institution,” Broyles said.
For the future QEP plan, Tennimon and his team are looking for outcomes that can be measurable.
“A key thing is that it has to be quantifiable; you have to be able to measure it from when it starts to when it ends,” Tennimon said. “It has to show that there was improvement.”
Tennimon said he would like to have more responses by April 15.
“I would like to have more student input to have a better representative sample.”
Dudinsky encouraged students to submit their ideas even though they may not see them implemented.
“It’s important that students realize that even though they may not see the immediate results of the QEP, it is a long term investment in the university,” Dudinsky said. “If there are any ideas that you want to share or skills that you wish you had been exposed to during your time at Troy, then feel free to share those.”
After all the responses have been collected, Tennimon will determine the top 10 or 15 and then present them to a steering committee on May 9.
“The committee will then determine which topics to present to the Chancellor (Jack Hawkins), who will have the final say on the QEP,” Tennimon said.
Then a director will be appointed who will be responsible for developing a budget and a plan for how it will be implemented.
The QEP will be submitted to SACSCOC by 2019 and implemented from 2019-2024.
“Student buy-in is really critical to the success of the QEP which translates to the success of the institution which translates into a better value for the degree that everyone is trying to finish,” Broyles said. “We need students to be interested in whatever it is.”
All ideas and suggestions can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.