SCOOBA — East Mississippi Community College’s accreditation has been reaffirmed following an exhaustive review of the college’s financial records, academic programs, faculty credentials and student outcomes.
At a June 15 meeting, the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved EMCC’s accreditation, which is up for renewal once every 10 years.
When insufficiencies are identified during the reaccreditation process, colleges can be asked to submit special reports detailing how they will correct the problems.
“The fact that we have no required follow-up reports speaks volumes to the quality of the faculty, staff and educational programs at East Mississippi Community College,” EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner said. “The reaffirmation of the demanding standards required for accreditation validates our commitment to serving our students and providing them with the best education possible.”
SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America.
The review process by SACSCOC is rigorous, EMCC Director of Institutional Effectiveness Susan Baird said.
Committees with the accrediting agency pored over EMCC’s financial records and examined in detail information related to every academic and career technical program offered at the college.
“In our Nursing program, for example, SACSCOC wanted evidence that we had learning outcomes in place and that we were measuring student learning based on those outcomes,” Baird said. “We had to provide work completed by our students showing that we assessed the outcomes that we were teaching to. We had to provide resumes and transcripts of our Nursing faculty members to prove that they are qualified to teach the courses they are teaching.”
In all, there are nearly 100 standards required by SACSCOC that must be met before accreditation is granted, plus the development of an institution-wide Quality Enhancement Plan.
The accreditation process began several years ago under the guidance of former EMCC Director of Institutional Effectiveness Diana Pruett, who retired last year.
“I can’t give enough credit to Mrs. Pruitt,” said Baird, who along with Mark Alexander, director of Planning and Research, picked up where Pruett left off. “If it wasn’t for Diana's dedication, tireless effort, and leadership, we never would have completed the work.”
A reaccreditation report and other records were sent to an SACSCOC off-site committee, which requested additional information as new questions arose. Last October, a seven-member SACSCOC committee, comprising experts in their respective fields from out-of-state colleges, visited EMCC. The committee members toured all of EMCC’s campuses, speaking with Huebner, vice presidents, program directors and faculty and staff.
“By the time they left, we had cleared everything up that they had questions about,” Baird said.
Colleges that lose accreditation are in danger of closing given that they are no longer eligible to receive federal financial aid, and in some cases state financial aid.
“There is an element of fear among educational institutions when it comes to SACSCOC, when in fact they are helping us meet the high standards we set for ourselves,” Alexander said. “They are not out to get us. Their goal is to make sure we are doing what is right for our students. We are grateful for their assistance and to all of those at EMCC who strive daily to make this such an excellent institution.”
EMCC PRESIDENT DR. THOMAS HUEBNER