By Ritamarie Tauer
In January 1968, Houston Baptist University (HBU) was first accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) after applying for candidacy in January 1966. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional commission responsible for accrediting degree-granting institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and some institutions in Latin America and other international sites approved by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees. Regional accreditation validates the quality of an institution as a whole and evaluates multiple aspects of an institution, including its academic offerings, governance and administration, mission, finances and resources. Accreditation by SACSCOC signifies that the institution (1) has a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) has resources, programs and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and (3) maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives.
In April 2021, HBU welcomed the SACSCOC On-Site Reaffirmation Committee for a virtual visit to campus to perform a review of the Focused Report and the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) both submitted in mid-February 2021, as well as sections of the Decennial Compliance Certification, submitted in September 2020. The nine-member Committee was comprised of peers from similar institutions with the goal of conducting a focused evaluation of the campus. Interviews were conducted with the University President, Dr. Sloan, the Executive Council, deans, directors, faculty, staff, and students. In addition to the lengthy list of interviews, numerous internal documents were examined. At the conclusion of the two-day virtual visit, the University was found to be in compliance with all 73 standards comprising the Principles of Accreditation, with no follow-up reports requested. The Committee included numerous gracious comments about the visit, including “All representatives of the institution were extremely professional and courteous during the virtual visit which made the Committee’s work enjoyable and rewarding. It was obvious to the Accreditation Committee that the leadership of Houston Baptist University is dedicated to ensuring compliance with the SACSCOC standards.” In addition, the Committee was “impressed with the institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan and the entire QEP Committee.”
Obviously, this wonderful news was everything I had hoped for but it should be noted, this result is the product of many dedicated administrators, faculty and staff committed to excellence! In the fall of 2017, a University Reaffirmation Committee was created to begin to prepare the campus for the Reaffirmation process. The purpose of this committee was to review the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation in anticipation of the preparation of the upcoming Decennial Compliance Certification Report. The committee was divided into nine subcommittees, each assigned to different sections of the report. During the 2017-2018 academic year the subcommittees performed a compliance audit; carefully reviewing the current status and identifying possible ‘red flags.’ During the 2018-2019 academic year, those ‘red flags’ were remedied, which cleared the way for the 2019-2020 academic year to be the reporting year for the Compliance Certification Report. In the spring of 2020, this committee began working very closely with me and Lisa Covington, Senior Director of Assessment and Compliance, as we began to write the report narrative. This was a consuming task and those serving on this University Committee demonstrated an amazing commitment for which I am very grateful. The members included Lisa Covington, Brenda Whaley, David Davis, Trae Holcomb, Carol Lavender, Katie Alaniz, Collin Garbarino, Chris Kugler, Candace Desrosiers, Victoria Means, Missy Wells, Susannah Michael, Brenda Woods, Dean Riley, Samantha Bottoms, Donna Stallings, Tina Butler, Michael Dei, Edith Gabbard, John Holmes, and Karen Francies. This all-star team was in my prayers regularly.
Concurrent with the work of the Reaffirmation Committee was the work of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Development Committee. This committee, chaired by Brenda Whaley, was charged with oversight of the QEP topic selection; development of the structure, budget, and assessment of the QEP selected; preparation of the QEP proposal for SACSCOC, and the appointment of the SACSCOC QEP evaluator. Members of this committee included Brenda Whaley, Vicki Alger, Hannah Wingate, Chris Hartwell, Jean Tarrats-Rivera, Allyson Cates, Page Hernandez and four students; Taylor Kollmorgen, Jessica (Tran) Nguyen, Sidney Salazar and Andre Walker. This committee carefully reviewed all requests for proposals and after much deliberation, finally selected Mission Metacognition as our next QEP. In addition, they were tasked with presenting and defending the QEP to the On-Site Review Committee. Their efforts were blessed with a glowing report from the Review Committee: “the planning process used to design and implement the QEP was excellent. Each step in the process was well planned and executed in a timely manner using a wide range of administrators, faculty, staff, and students, which ensured that all voices were heard. The personnel assigned to implement the QEP from both the faculty and the student success areas shows a commitment by the institution to making Mission Metacognition a success.”
The report prepared by the SACSCOC On-Site Reaffirmation Committee was forwarded to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees for a final review and vote for reaffirmation. At the Annual Meeting on December 2, 2021, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to affirm our reaffirmation with no further reports due!
HBU is no ordinary institution. We are blessed to work with God-fearing, hard-working administrators, faculty and staff who love what they do and love HBU. This 10- year reaffirmation is a testimony to each and every one of them!