Accrediting body visits, provides feedback on Quality Enhancement Plan

Reagan Whisenant, COM 250 Reporter

Isabelle Ryerson, COM 250 Reporter

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) visited and reviewed Berry College during the first week of March.

SACSCOC is an organization that ensures and assists colleges in institution quality enhancement. Their goal is to assist schools in creating standards for excellence and then hold them accountable to follow through on meeting those set standards. 

Being accredited by the SACSCOC allows institutions to be acknowledged by the National Board of Education and gives more significance and weight to an institution’s diplomas. 

“They make us accountable to our values and mission,” Dean of Students Debbie Heida said.

This year, Berry College will be under decennial review, which occurs every 10 years. This process consists of compiling data to support how Berry has met the goals that the instituted, and also includes student complaint logs and best practices statements. A previous outcome of SACSCOC reviews was the formation of the Foundations curriculum.

John Hardt, vice president of SACSCOC, said Berry College has struggled with submitting enough documentation on the qualifications of Berry professors to teach various courses. However, he said this problem is usually fixed before Berry reaches the peer review phase of the decennial review. 

The review also encompasses areas of student life like student services and graduation outcomes. The SACSCOC reviews are holistic and hold institutions accountable for the values, goals and outcomes that they have set for themselves. 

The final aspect of the decennial review was the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP was created by the faculty as a point of growth that the college has chosen to work on outside of the SACSCOC standards. In years past, programs like Plan4ward have been created to help meet student needs that were recognized by the faculty. 

This year, the QEP that Berry College will propose will be a course called Signature Experience (BCC 300). This class will help seniors take past “signature experiences,” like internships and study abroad, and apply them to their professional careers. 

“We do these things because it’s the right thing to do for our students,” Andrew Bressette, SACSCOC liaison and vice president for enrollment management said. “It’s the right thing to do to be a high-functioning, effective college.”

Heida has served as a reviewer for other schools in addition to assisting Berry College in collecting data for this year’s review. She said reviewers learn just as much from reviewing other schools as they do when their own school is being reviewed. She also said Berry College benefits from being reviewed because there are great reviewers giving great advice. 

After the review, Berry College will receive feedback on the areas of the school that the reviewers choose to look at and will also receive feedback on the QEP. 

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