You may have seen discussions elsewhere about the issues of Shorter’s accreditation. In 2002, when Shorter was up for its re-accreditation, The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, (SACSCOC, commonly referred to as SACS) called into question the extent of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s influence on the Shorter Board of Trustees. According to the final judgement on the Shorter vs Baptist Convention of Georgia lawsuit, the Board of Trustees had reason to be concerned.
The SACS Principles of Accreditation make it very clear that the Board of Trustees has a duty to the institution and “The board is not controlled by a minority of board members or by organizations or interests separate from it. Both the presiding officer of the board and a majority of other voting members of the board are free of any contractual, employment, or personal or familial financial interest in the institution.” (Principle 2.2) and that “The institution has a chief executive officer whose primary responsibility is to the institution and who is not the presiding officer of the board. (Chief Executive Officer)” (Principle 2.3) The SACS guidelines expand upon the first Principle (2.2) in the Comprehensive Standards – 3.2.4 -“The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence. (External influence).” It is with these Principles and Standards in mind, that we point to the current operation of the University.
When former Shorter president Dr. Schrader and the then Board of Trustees attempted to remove the college from the control of the Georgia Baptists, by dissolving the college and transferring all its assets to a foundation that would run the school, SACS approved the re-accreditation of the college. It is not clear to this group what accommodation was made after the Supreme Court judgement was rendered, however questions about the influence of the GBC and how that will affect re-accreditation again are being raised.
Why is there so much discussion about accreditation? Does it really matter? If students intend to go to graduate school, teach in Georgia or use their degree to prove their qualifications while seeking a job, it certainly does.
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process initiated by the school. A thorough, independent review of the educational program helps to ensure that the institution is offering a program of sound and uniform quality. A recognized accreditation agency examines twelve general areas of institutional effectiveness: fiscal responsibility, administrative and faculty qualifications, curricula, facilities, support services, tuition and fees, student and public complaints, tuition and fees in relation to academic objectives and credit received, student loans, student achievement, equipment and supplies (such as library support and technology) student loan repayment and others.
Who grants accreditation?
The most highly recognized accreditation comes from a regional accreditation board. In the southeast, that accreditation board is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Universities may hold dual accreditation from agencies such as the Association of Biblical Higher Education, but most employers and graduate schools will look for individuals with diplomas from a SACS accredited institution.
How does accreditation affect financial aid?
Federal aid is not available to students attending a non-accredited institution.
For further information on accreditation, we invite you to visit the SACS COC website.