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TRACS reviews BJU’s accreditation

Evaluators from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools are scheduled for a virtual visit to BJU on Feb. 23 and 24 as the next step in the process of reaffirming the University’s membership in the national accrediting organization TRACS.

Since BJU’s initial acceptance into TRACS in 2006, the University was reaffirmed in 2011 with an on-site visit. This year’s 10-year update will be virtual because of COVID-19 protocols.

Dr. Gary Weier, provost and a commissioner at TRACS, said remaining a member of TRACS is important for the University and its students. “We maintain our TRACS accreditation because we think it’s really important to demonstrate to our constituents our strong biblical and spiritual focus for our students, faculty and staff,” Weier said. Because TRACS accredits Christian colleges, one requirement for members is an orthodox statement of faith.

Being a member of TRACS means that BJU students will continue to have access to federal funding and other accreditation rights even if maintaining the University’s religious positions could eventually cause concern with regional accreditors. Federal funds include the Pell Grant, the G.I. Bill or federal tuition aid programs for military veterans, as well as access to federal direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans. It is harder to get into graduate school or even land a job if the applicant has a degree from an unaccredited university.

In addition to national accreditation with TRACS, BJU maintains regional accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. BJU applied in 2012 and received accreditation five years later from SACSCOC.

“You can’t just go in and say, ‘I want to be accredited,’” Phil Gerard, director of Planning, Research, and Assessment said. “You have to be assessing and proving the fact that you are continually improving.” Gerard led the effort to get Bob Jones University regionally accredited. For an institution to receive accreditation, they must have two to three years of assessments.

Every accreditor has a certain set of standards an institution must prove they meet or exceed in order to be accredited. Bob Jones University maintains accreditation through yearly required reports, as well as a lengthy self-review report every 10 years. In addition to the University’s 10-year self-review, the accreditors evaluate the University every 10 years.

During the 10-year review, BJU must submit a quality enhancement plan. The quality enhancement plan must identify an area of student success that the University can improve. BJU will then carry out the quality enhancement plan for five years.

BJU surveyed the entire University community regarding a topic for its SACSCOC quality enhancement plan and also conducted focus group research of those surveyed.

“[Accreditation] goes smoothly because of the dedication of our faculty and staff,” said Weier. “I am very thankful for them and how they go about their ministry.”