WKU gearing up for reaccreditation

Jessica Voorhees

WKU is up for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges this academic year. 

The SACSCOC is a regional accrediting party commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education that reviews colleges to ensure they meet certain standards in areas such as academics and administration.  

Richard Miller, vice provost and chief diversity officer, said the SACSCOC accreditation is vital because it allows the university to offer degree programs and students to receive federal financial aid. 

“If an institution loses its accreditation, that is a huge deal,” Miller said. “You try to avoid that at all costs.”

Colleges and universities undergo the reaccreditation process every 10 years.

“We’ve been relatively successful over the years at being accredited by SACSCOC and we try to do everything we can to maintain that accreditation,” Miller said.

President Gary Ransdell said he would be surprised if any problems emerged during the process and is confident WKU will be reaccredited.

“It’s a very thorough process and we’ve devoted a lot of time and thought and energy to prepare for the reaccreditation process,” he said. 

Miller said he established several committees, such as a leadership review committee, which broke into teams to address specific standards, such as the mission of the institution and the role of the Board of Regents. 

Sylvia Gaiko, associate vice president for planning and program development and a member of the leadership committee, said the process involves documenting and reviewing everything the university does.

“It gives you a standard of how to operate a good educational practice,” she said. 

Miller said an internal and external committee will review the institution, and then SACSCOC will provide an off-site and on-site committee for additional review.

The on-site committee will come to campus April 17 to 19 to talk with faculty, administrators and students and to visit the buildings on the main and regional campuses.

Miller said the committee will question students and faculty about their familiarity with the reaccreditation process and the school’s Quality Enhancement Plan. 

The QEP is a blueprint of what the university wants to focus on. Miller said WKU’s QEP is themed “Evidence and Argument.”

“It’s really important that students as well as faculty and staff have a pretty good understanding of what the reaffirmation accreditation process is all about,” Miller said. “It affects everyone on the campus.”

He said he will be publicizing more about the SACSCOC accreditation next semester. Students can also find more information about the QEP on the Academic Affairs page on the WKU website. 

Miller said he is confident the school will receive reaccreditation. 

“It’s always good to take a close look at yourself as a whole as an institution,” he said. “We feel really good about our report and we’re just waiting to hear some feedback.”