January 21, 2003

Emory self-study now online

By Michael Terrazas mterraz@emory.edu

Emory’s Compliance Audit Report, required by the ongoing reaccreditation process through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), is finished and available on the provost’s office website in preparation for the official SACS site visit, Feb. 2–5.

The self-study is a hefty 470-page (including appendices) document that analyzes just about every conceivable facet of University operations, from curricula and degree requirements to facilities management and information technology. More than two years in the making, the report measures Emory’s performance against SACS’ set of 464 criteria, according to Assistant Vice Provost Kim Loudermilk, who coordinated the effort.

“Our findings indicate that Emory is in full compliance with all but two of SACS’ criteria—and for those two we are in partial compliance,” Loudermilk said.

The two areas in which Emory is not in full compliance are:

• in some “major” publications such as course catalogs, the University does not adequately identify and explain its relationship with SACS in the kind of language preferred by the accrediting organization.

• for the Allied Health undergraduate program in radiologic technology, Emory does not at present require the full set of general education courses as required by SACS.

“These are items that are easy to fix,” said Loudermilk, who added that minor issues such as these are common in accreditation reviews. “When there are 464 criteria, the likelihood that there will be full compliance with all of them is very slim.”

The report is organized into six sections, each of which details Emory activities and compliance in a different area of University operations. In every instance, the SACS criterion is quoted, along with Emory’s state of compliance, followed by evidence for the claim and then discussion.

For example, page 87 of the report spells out SACS’ requirements for the criteria and publication of a school’s policy for admitting transfer students. After stating clearly that Emory is in compliance, the report then presents its evidence (page citations from admissions materials, school by school) and concludes with an explanation. The next section, beginning on page 89, follows the same template for the awarding of degree credits for advanced placement exams, and so on—through all schools, all divisions, all the myriad missions of each corner of campus.

“Since June 2000 at least half my job has been devoted [to the SACS review],” Loudermilk said, lauding the work of her staff in helping to compile and review some 1,800 pages of requested material and 1,100 more pages of supporting documents from offices all across campus. “They really did a great job.”

From those 1,800 pages, Loudermilk and her staff trimmed the package to a svelte 370 pages, which were then forwarded to a team of reviewers. After adding another 100 pages of appendices, the document was ready to be submitted to SACS.

In its official review, Loudermilk said, SACS can offer three levels of response for any given criterion: a “recommendation,” which Emory must implement to maintain accreditation; a “suggestion,” which the committee thinks the University should implement, but is not mandated for accreditation; or a “commendation,” which compliments the University for especially good performance in a particular area.

SACS reviews member institutions every 10 years for reaccreditation, and in Emory’s last review, the University received 11 recommendations and 45 suggestions, a tally Loudermilk called “pretty typical.” SACS will issue the University’s preliminary review during its February site visit, which will be a busy time for Loudermilk, her staff and several other members of the campus community.

Chaired by Thomas Burish, president of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., the SACS visiting team will include Scott Cowan (Tulane), Karen Helm, (North Carolina State), Thomas Keller (Duke), Layton McCurdy, (Medical University of South Carolina), James Peacock (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Paul Rogers (Southern Methodist University), Robert Seal (Texas Christian University), Jeanine Stewart (Washington and Lee University), Martha Sullivan (Tulane) and Elizabeth Williams (Southern Methodist).

Also visiting will be a team of consultants who have been working with the other aspect of the SACS review that has been addressed through the Research@Emory Commission. The consulting team includes Nancy Cantor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Henry Powell (University of California-San Diego) and Barbara Sporn (Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna, Austria).

“SACS has changed the process since our last reaffirmation of accreditation,” Loudermilk said. “Last time, faculty members gathered and analyzed the required information for the Compliance Audit Report. This time administrators performed these tasks, which took some of the burden off faculty. Although the majority of faculty and staff have not been involved in the details of preparing the report and planning the visit, any member of the University community is welcome to talk with the SACS visiting team during their time on campus.”

To view the self-study report in its entirety, visit the provost’s office website at www.emory.edu/PROVOST/.






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