Valdosta State University is currently preparing for reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the recognized regional accrediting body in eleven southern U.S. states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America. It offers accreditation to institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master, and/or doctoral degrees.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.”  Accreditation encourages public confidence in higher education; it is pivotal in keeping institutions up to date in matters of institutional effectiveness and best practices. It also allows colleges and universities to be certain that accredited institutions have complied with a common set of requirements and standards.  In short, accreditation from SACSCOC means that VSU students are eligible for federal financial aid; their course credits can be accepted for transfer at other institutions; and the degrees VSU awarded are recognized as valid.

Every ten years, VSU undergoes reaffirmation of its accreditation. To maintain accreditation with the COC, VSU must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the COC on faculty and staff qualifications, facilities management, distance learning, financial stability, student support, and many other issues. The Principles serve as consistent guidelines for peer review, representing the collective judgment of the membership on standards appropriate for the assurance of quality in higher education. Reaffirmation is a vigorous, intensive process of self-examination and documentation—we not only have to state that we comply with the standards, but we also have to prove how we do it.

In its Handbook for Reaffirmation of Accreditation, SACSCOC describes eight basic steps to reaffirmation:

  1. The Commission staff conducts an orientation for the institution’s Leadership Team. Completed December 2018.

  2. The institution prepares and submits its Compliance Certification and relevant supporting documentation (and annual institutional profiles) to the Commission on Colleges. Completed September 1, 2020.

  3. The Off-Site Review Committee reviews the Compliance Certification and supporting documentation attesting to the institution’s determination of its compliance with all Core Requirements and Comprehensive Standards with the exception of Core Requirement Twelve, which relates to the Quality Enhancement Plan. The Off-Site Committee prepares a report of its findings. Completed November 2020.

  4. The Commission staff communicates to the institution the findings of the report prepared by the Off-Site Review Committee. The institution may choose to submit a Focused Report in response to the committee’s findings. The On-Site Committee receives a written copy of the Off-Site Committee’s report and the institution’s Focused Report, if one is submitted. Completed January 25, 2021.

  5. The institution submits its Quality Enhancement Plan to the Commission. Completed January 25, 2021.

  6. The On-Site Review Committee visits the institution to review and determine the acceptability of the QEP, to review areas of noncompliance and other areas of concern noted by the Off-Site Committee, and to review any areas of concern that surface during the visit. The On-Site Committee submits its report to the Commission. Completed March 9-11, 2021

  7. The institution prepares a response to the On-Site Committee’s report and submits it to the Commission. Not required.

  8. The Commission reviews the findings included in the report of the On-Site Committee and the institution’s response and takes action on the institution’s reaffirmation. Not required.