It’s showtime for Florida A&M University.
SACS, formerly known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, is on campus this week in an attempt to determine if FAMU is taking care of business and able to be reaffirmed as an accredited university.
Accreditation is essential for an institution to be eligible to receive federal funding, among other things.
The southern regional agency determines if higher education institutions in almost a dozen states are meeting federal standards.
According to its website, SACS’ goal is to ensure that institutions are operating equally in quality and effectiveness for all of its members by following six core values: Integrity, Continuous Quality Improvement Peer Review/Self-regulation, Accountability Student Learning, and Transparency.
Maurice Edington, FAMU’s new vice president for Strategic Planning, Analysis and Institutional Effectiveness, has been tasked with preparing the university for this week’s visit by a team representing SACS.
“The visit has already begun, it started (Monday). One of the things the committee has to do is visit our off-campus sites. We have two members of the committee that are down in the law school in Orlando right now. And another two members are over in Crestview at the pharmacy school. But it kicks into full bloom (Tuesday) on this campus,” said Edington.
For the past two years FAMU has been working to assure that it remains accredited. FAMU was most recently reaccredited in December 2013.
“We have been working for over two years, involving all of the relevant and pertinent people across campus who have responsibility for the different standards that are being evaluated and we have been working closely with them to demonstrate our compliance,” Edington added. “So, we didn’t just start this two months ago or six months ago. It’s a process that’s been going on for quite some time.”
As stated on FAMUs website, accreditation means that the institution has a mission appropriate to higher education, resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvements.
Edington and his staff have been working diligently to uphold this effort.
“We have been working very hard, that’s the best thing I can say. A lot of work day and night, weekends. A lot of work to demonstrate that we are complying with the standards, and that’s what the process is about, the standards that describe what an institution should be doing and you have to provide evidence that you’re doing it. So that’s what we’ve been working on.
“Pulling together our information evidence and reporting it to them in a manner that will allow them to give us a good review,” said Edington.
Although Edington has been newly appointed to his vice president position his past experience as a liaison for the SACS committee while serving as dean of the College of Science & Technology, has made him confident that the school is going in the right direction.
“It has prepared me very well because the more experience you have in this type of activity, the better you are at understanding how to respond. The first thing Is that I’ve been doing this for about 10 years or so, dealing with these same kinds of issues and the process. I’m not an expert but I feel very comfortable that I’m in a position to be able to respond appropriately,” said Edington.
The accreditation team will continue its visit on the main campus through Thursday and Edington has few concerns with his teams preparation.
“Not any specific areas of concerns. It’s a massive process so there’s nothing that jumps out at me,” he said. “We’re just doing our best to demonstrate compliance with everything.”