FAMU relieved after SACS visit

No program escaped inspection during spring break as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools visited Florida A&M University.

The visiting team said they were pleased with the university’s progress of FAMU’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP). Out of 77 compliance issues, the school missed one; the committee made two recommendations.

“(FAMU) knew what this process was all about – creating a stronger and better university,” said Carol Z. Garrison, chair of the visiting team and president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.       

“I am very proud of your QEP,” said Garrison. “The plan was well thought out and developed.

I could feel all of the excitement…even from the students.  The biggest challenge will be channeling all of this excitement and making sure you remain focused.”   

The visit was part of FAMU’s 10-year SACS reaffirmation process. 

The primary focus of the review was the five-year QEP called “Enhancing Performance in Critical Thinking.”

The program developed out of a process other institutions use to asses their institution.    

“The goal of the QEP is to improve freshman level student learning in the area of critical thinking,” said Shawnta Friday-Stroud, the school’s SACS accreditation liaison.be redesigned to include critical thinking instructional and learning objectives that will produce graduates who are more prepared for the challenges of college, career and society.”           

The visiting team had two recommendations. Joseph H. Silver, vice president of SACS, said the suggestions were related to Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 and issues with the QEP. Standard 3.7.1 deals with the employment of competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution.       

“You will have from now until December to address this,” Garrison said.  “It may be a case of providing more information or evaluating the teaching assignments of a few individuals.”

J. Patrick O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M University, said the university would need to develop an annual program of assessment.

“[An assessment] would provide a mechanism to determine if changes need to be made and the overall impact of the QEP,” said O’Brien.                                           

Friday-Stroud said the university could not take appropriate measures until SACS sends a written report. She estimated it could take two to three weeks for the report to arrive.         

“We are here with only two recommendations because of a lot of sleepless nights and the dedication of faculty and staff,” said President James H. Ammons. “I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

During spring break some students volunteered to escort the eight-member SACS team around campus. The students were given an opportunity to speak to the reviewers on behalf of the student body at a faculty/student meeting and a private student session.       

“We made sure we stressed the importance of both student and faculty development,” said Brittney Akins 19, a sophomore economics student from Port of Spain, Trinidad. “I wanted an opportunity to voice a well-rounded viewpoint, while supporting the advantages of the QEP.”                   

The Commission will decide whether to reaffirm FAMU’s accreditation at its December meeting in Atlanta.

“I have high hopes about being reaffirmed,” Akins said.