University making headway in accreditation process

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University making headway in accreditation process

“How long will the regional accreditation process take for BJU?”

This is a question many have had since it was announced last semester that the University would be applying for accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The University must go through two cycles of gathering data to present to the accrediting board before it can apply for accreditation, according to BJU director of institutional effectiveness Mr. Phil Gerard.

Each cycle lasts one year, and this semester marks the beginning of the first cycle for BJU.

Mr. Gerard said the process includes two assessments: macro and micro. The macro assessment involves proving that the University is committed to its mission. That includes evaluating, improving and accomplishing the goals of the mission.

The micro assessment deals with every program BJU offers. “On the academic side, every major has to be assessed,” Mr. Gerard said. “On the non-academic side, every department has to be assessed.”

During this process, each department will identify desired outcomes and produce evidence that it is achieving these outcomes. “Accreditation and assessment are a lot about continued improvement,” Mr. Gerard said.

Mr. Gerard said that based on an analysis of the submitted evidence, the department must show where it needs to improve for the next year.

The evidence for academic programs is being examined by 20 faculty assessment coordinators under the leadership of Dr. Doug Garland, director of assessment.

The coordinators work with faculty to reach the outcomes. “A lot of that work has already been done at the beginning of the school year,” Mr. Gerard said.

Staff assessment manager Mr. Mark Beam is working with the staff departments to identify outcomes and complete assessments.

Once BJU meets the requirements to apply, it will take anywhere from as little as 18 months to as long as four years for SACS to make its decision on accreditation for BJU.

Although BJU only recently started the application process, it is not a new topic among its leadership.

“Leaders here at BJU have always been familiar with the accreditation process,” said Dr. Gary Weier, executive vice president for academic affairs and overseer of the accreditation process.

In 2006, BJU became nationally accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), where Dr. Weier serves as a board member. Dr. Weier said that once the administration became convinced that SACS regional accreditation would support the University’s mission, they believed it was the time to move in that direction.

“The thing that is most important is SACS’ emphasis on mission,” Dr. Weier said. He said that SACS would help BJU be more focused on fulfilling its goals.

“As long as it encourages us to [fulfill our mission], and as long as it doesn’t impede upon our ability to be who we are from a biblical standpoint, we’re excited about the possibilities,” he said.