By JACYLN HARRIS
This fall, Amarillo College is going through a process to reaffirm its accreditation, which ensures students are able to transfer their credits and qualify for financial aid. Numerous AC faculty and staff members are involved in preparing documentation showing the college is meeting accreditation standards.
In September, reviewers from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will visit the college to ensure the accreditation standards are met.
SACSCOC is the body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.
AC is already accredited and every 10 years a panel from SACSCOC comes to evaluate the school to see if it still meets the 72 standards put in place. “The basic preparation is a documentation of what we do with the college for the students and what we do toward compliance,” Tina Babb, the director of institutional effectiveness, said. “We have groups of internal committees that work on sections of standards for SACS. And every year, they provide documentation and evidence of the work that they’ve done. They’ll provide reports of what they’re doing in their areas to make improvements. And all of that is used to demonstrate compliance with our quality, integrity, and ongoing improvement of the college.”
Becky Easton, the dean of liberal arts, said accreditation is important for the students and the community. “If we weren’t accredited, besides being extremely embarrassing, it would also mean our students would not qualify for financial aid. if a college is not accredited, those colleges and universities are not likely to accept our credits. That’s why probably one of the main reasons that we need to stay accredited to help out a lot with the students,” she said.
Accreditation also helps with student resources. Denese Skinner, vice president of student affairs, said accreditation ensures that students have services to support their academic journey. “It is important for us to be able to demonstrate that we do have in-depth and thorough and helpful resources to support our students Things as the Tutoring Center, Counseling Center, Career Services Center and Disability Services. Not only does the SACSCOC Accreditation make sure that the curriculum is up to standards but the way in which these colleges are able to help their student more,” Skinner said.
Although few students know about the accreditation process, it is something always in the back of the college staff and faculty members’ minds. Skinner said she hopes students realize that there are people making sure that their education and resources meet high standards. “That should bring pride to the AC community as a whole.”