A&M-Corpus Christi recently underwent SACS reaffirmation, a peer-review process that culminated in a campus visit in spring 2010. There are two main parts to the reaffirmation process: Compliance Certification and the Quality Enhancement Plan. Success in both is vital to the reaffirmation of the university, and many staff, administrators, and faculty worked to ensure the process was completed smoothly. At its December 2010 meeting, after thorough review of submitted materials, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges granted the University’s reaffirmation of accreditation without monitoring for ten years.
Compliance Certification — CLICK HERE TO VIEW REPORT
A&M-Corpus Christi is conducting a thorough self-study, guided by the requirements of SACS, to accomplish its compliance review.
Under the 2008 Principles of Accreditation, the Commission evaluates an institution and makes accreditation decisions based on the following:
The university’s compliance was documented in a compliance report that was due in September 2009. The self-study rigorously measured the quality of our faculty, the courses being offered, the support offered to students, and all staff and services of the campus.
Quality Enhancement Plan
A new facet of SACS reaffirmation is the requirement that institutions create a quality enhancement plan (QEP). The plan is reviewed and approved by the SACS review committee that visits the campus. The QEP is an opportunity to reinvest in our core mission, ameliorate our weaknesses, and build on our strengths.
At A&M-Corpus Christi, we have focused on serving first-year students since 1994, when the learning communities program was initiated. Excellence based on continuous reflection and revision led to the Texas STAR Award in 2003 and being named a Foundation of Excellence for students in the first year of college in 2004.
In spite of these recognitions, those who work with and teach first-year students were not satisfied with their level of success, and felt that our efforts need continuous refinement if we were to continue to be a leader in learning communities and the first-year experience. Data were examined and continue to be examined to identify challenges that students face that seem particularly troubling. Success in math, facility in reading, and academic expectations and motivation were identified as areas needing attention.
After a year and a half of campus conversations and committee work, faculty chose the First Year Islander (FYI) experience as our quality enhancement plan focus. It allowed us to build on our strengths and address our weaknesses; it is broad-based and will impact large numbers of students; it will engage faculty, staff, librarians, and advisors in all the colleges and many programs, including those providing bridge, tutoring, and honors’ experiences for first-year students.
A broad-based steering committee decided the most effective areas of focus, methods, and resources needed to make significant improvements to existing programs and for new programs. The goal is to remake the First Year Islander (FYI) experience into something supportive, engaging, and challenging for all students. The first phases of the plan were implemented in fall 2010.
Fall 2010 FYI activities included the first annual, First-Year Islanders Convocation, held on August 24, 2010; the First-Year Islanders Bridge program on August 23, 2010; and re-designed first-year courses of College Algebra and American History 1301 and 1302. The campus piloted new versions of Political Science 2305 and 2306 and is planning for a revision of Biology 1406. All course redesigns are focused on improving student learning through a variety of methods: modularized Algebra, blended learning opportunities in Political Science, writing-across-the-curriculum in History, and reading-across-the-curriculum in Biology. Given these transitional and faculty-development efforts, A&M-Corpus Christi hopes to improve student success in the first college year and beyond.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools