Excitement about re-accreditation?
Is it possible to get excited about re-accreditation? Perhaps. The new accreditation standards are a positive change in that they encourage us to reflect upon the connections between our daily work and the overall goals of Appalachian State University. The reaffirmation criteria are predicated upon a commitment to integrity and quality enhancement. Such principles resonate particularly well at Appalachian, and people who enjoy looking at the “big picture” may enjoy at least parts of the re-accreditation process.
For one, the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a chance to move ahead in areas where we would most like to go. The QEP differs from what one might think of as “traditional” accreditation activity in several significant ways. The QEP topic must be chosen through an open, participatory process that engages a large part of campus and involves all critical stakeholders. There must be a similarly broad awareness of the QEP topic and of some elements of the final QEP. A QEP involves significant investments by the institution in directly improving student learning in meaningful ways. A QEP is a living project, not a report that is filed. The QEP is a public and publicized effort to do better at fulfilling our core mission: the education of students.
The Compliance Certification process might seem more dry: responding to standards posed within the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation. It can be professionally “fun,” though to look at our processes and our data and collect information in a way that tells our story to our peer reviews working through SACSCOC. We will get to know one another better – which always happens when working intensely on difficult projects. Additionally, we may continue to understand our campus better: what benchmarks exist for certain procedures and services; what other universities are doing in these areas; and what makes Appalachian State University unique and high caliber.