Editor: Shannon Cottongame
August 25, 2021
Hill College’s accreditation has been reaffirmed through 2031 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the southern states.
The SACSCOC Board of Trustees made the announcement at its June 17 meeting. To maintain SACSCOC accreditation, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the “Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement,” and with the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges.
Hill College Vice President of External Affairs Jessyca Brown said preparation for the 10-year reaffirmation is a rigorous, multi-year process.
“The process involved broad-based groups of faculty, staff and administration evaluating the college’s compliance with SACSCOC standards, writing narrative reports and gathering evidence to prove compliance,” she said. “It is a very thorough evaluation of all of the college’s policies and procedures.”
Both an off-site review and an on-site visit are part of the reaffirmation process, with the on-site visit being the final piece of review. Typically, a team of approximately 10 peers from other regionally accredited community colleges come on site for a week to audit facilities and conduct interviews. This year, the on-site visit was impacted by the pandemic.
“Due to COVID-19, the on-site visit was conducted virtually, which presented numerous unprecedented challenges for us and the visiting team,” Brown said. “As we had experienced throughout the pandemic, everyone pulled together to make it happen, resulting in a very successful visit.”
Another key part of the review process is the college’s required submission of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which details institutional efforts to improve performance in a particular area. Hill College’s QEP, Focus on Financial Fitness, was chosen and designed to address student debt and the challenges students face in managing expenses and debt.
The impact of the QEP will be evaluated in five years during the Fifth Year Interim Report, which is an abbreviated reaccreditation report and QEP impact report.
“Regional accreditation is really not ever over,” said Brown. “It is a continual focus on quality and compliance with intense periods of audit and report writing cycling every few years.”
Brown said continued accreditation is achieved with the help of the entire college and community.
“Successful reaffirmation is a substantial accomplishment for the college,” she said. “Continued regional accreditation assures the public that the college is sound, it allows students to qualify for federal financial aid, and ensures that students can transfer credit to other accredited institutions of higher education.”