By Tyler Whetstone
Every semester students are graded on how well they complete a course. If the student studies well and attendes class more times than not, the student passes the course. If a student fails to study or attend class, it should come as no surprise when the student does not receive credit for the course at the end of the semester.
Trevecca also is graded. Every 10 years the university must undergo a SACS accreditation that validates Trevecca’s standing as an institution.
SACS, or Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is the regional accreditation entity that does this assessment for Trevecca and the majority of schools in the Southeast.
If Trevecca were to fail this assessment, it would render the diploma students receive at graduation useless, according to Dr. Stephen Pusey, university provost.
“What does it mean to have a college degree? What’s the level of quality of that college degree,” said Pusey. “It’s based on the quality of the programs.”
And it’s the quality of the programs that the SACS accreditation helps decide. A failing grade in the process would be devastating to a university, while a passing one would allow things to progress as normal.
The grading scale for such an assessment is based on 90 standards that institutions must meet. Not unlike the grueling work of putting together an application for the NCAA, SACS requires an explanation on each of the standards it deems necessary for the university.
Those standards totaled 300 single-spaced pages. With the supporting documentation, the report was over 13,400 pages long. For context, the report Trevecca submitted to the NCAA to become a Division II school last year was 1,644 pages .
One of those standards is a required quality enhancement plan, or a QEP, which must be research based to enhance the quality of student learning. Each university must present this plan to the SACS committee.
Trevecca’s QEP will be a research program that freshmen starting next fall will begin. They will learn the process of research and how to construct a research paper. By their junior year each student will pick out a topic to research and will be able to decide whether or not they want to continue the research and present it as a senior.
“What I love most about [the QEP] is that it takes our classroom education and requires it to have an in-the-world component to it so that you’re testing what you’re learning here in some real-life, real-world setting,” said President Dan Boone.
After SACS reviews Trevecca’s documents in November, the university will have two months to address the inadequacies in their original report.
This will be followed by an on campus visit March 19-21 where members of the committee will ask students, teachers and workers questions about the school and its academic affairs. It is here that students could be approached and asked about the QEP.
In order to prepare students and faculty, student development will be putting together a marketing campaign to inform the campus what Trevecca’s QEP will look like, and over the coming months students will be inundated with QEP information.