University gears up for accreditation committee visit

The time has come again for Florida A&M to go under the microscope of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for accreditation. During a three-day visit, a SACS committee will use the standards they have developed to measure the university’s quality of education.SACS is a private, non-profit organization founded in Atlanta in 1895.

Gerald D. Lord, SACS vice president, said the accreditation program “assures the public that the school meets the quality level of faculty, facility and education.” Other deciding factors include school improvement projects, resources, student guidance, curriculum, leadership and the university mission.

Once a university passes in these areas, it is deemed accredited. This indicates the university has achieved the specified objectives given by SACS and that the university will be consistent in maintaining the objectives. FAMU has a SACS committee that is gearing up for the review. It has an action plan that includes a timeline, a calendar and newsletters to keep students and faculty abreast on currents issues dealing with the SACS process.

Schools such as the School of Business and Industry and the College of Education are already gearing up for the accreditation process. Lydia A. McKinley-Floyd was recently named the new dean of the School of SBI. With her leadership and the help of new faculty, there is hope that the SBI five-year program will regain accreditation. Some students feel the program would still prosper without accreditation on its name alone.

Alexander Hanna, 22, is a fifth-year business administration student from Chicago. “Many top companies in corporate America know about the FAMU SBI five-year program, and people still get jobs,” Hanna said.

In addition to the prestige associated with accreditation, universities and colleges with accreditation have access to federal funds such as student aid. Without accreditation, financial aid and net checks would be a thing of the past. With accreditation also comes the ease to transfer courses from one institution or program to the next. The university receiving the transfer takes into strong consideration whether the credits to be transferred come from an accredited university.

The downside of accreditation is often a tough pill to swallow. “After failing accreditation some schools keep running, some don’t. It depends on the school,” Lord said.

When Morris Brown College in Atlanta lost its accreditation, many students were unable to transfer their credits. Students such as Gregory Pierson were forced to start over. Pierson was a senior at Morris Brown when they lost accreditation.

He is now at Tuskegee University and is pushed back to a sophomore with the amount of credits he was able to transfer. “I have friends that were not able to transfer any credits. Most graduate schools will not accept you if you do not come from an accredited institution. It’s just a messed up situation,” Pierson said.

FAMU is designated as a Level VI institution by SACS, granting it the authority to award the baccalaureate and masters degrees, and the doctoral degree in four or more fields.

FAMU first received its accreditation in 1935, and was the first black institution to be accredited by SACS. The university was last reviewed in 1998. The upcoming SACS review is scheduled for February 2008.

For more information on SACS go to and click on SACS.