The University of Houston is undertaking a two-year project
that, if all goes well, will culminate in the reaffirmation
of UH’s accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of
the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The designation is essential to the future of the university
and the students it serves, said the administrator overseeing
“Accreditation is critical to any university or college.
It affects such significant factors as federal and state funding,
which are based on whether an institution is accredited by the
appropriate regional agency,” said Jerald W. Strickland,
director of UH’s SACS reaffirmation of accreditation.
SACS accredits institutions
of higher education throughout the 11 southern states and parts
of Latin America. Accreditation indicates that an institution
maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are
consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it
offers, and that it is successful in achieving those objectives.
To gain or maintain accreditation, an institution must comply
with SACS principles of quality enhancement, policies and procedures.
The evaluation is voluntary and occurs usually every 10 years.
The last time SACS reaffirmed the university’s accreditation
was in 1998. In fall 2005, administrators began preparing for
the next accreditation, which will, in addition to the campus,
cover UH courses taught at UH System at Sugar Land and UH System
at Cinco Ranch.
UH President Jay Gogue appointed seven committees — leadership,
compliance management, compliance certification, academic policy
audit/advisory, faculty standards, assessment and information
technology college support — comprised of faculty, staff
and administrators to work on the project. Committee members
must develop and submit a compliance certification document
and a quality enhancement plan (QEP) by fall 2007.
The document requires UH to provide evidence that the university
is following its mission
and is compliant with SACS policies and principles, Strickland
To prepare the document, UH administrators must analyze the
breadth of the university, including governance and administration,
financial stability, faculty credentials, academic programs
and policies, library and other learning resources, student
support services and facilities.
For example, UH is now gathering the academic credentials,
curriculum vitae, résumés and profiles of all
professors and instructors who will teach this fall and in the
spring, Strickland said. UH also must submit syllabi for all
courses taught during these two semesters.
“We have begun collecting these documents and data for
the compliance certification report. We will complete the process
by late next spring,” Strickland said.
Work on selecting the QEP, which will focus on improving student
learning during a five-year period, will begin this fall.
“We plan to involve the entire university in the process,
much like we did in developing the UH System strategic plan,”
Strickland said. “The QEP must make good academic sense,
and must have a reasonable chance of success. We must have the
budget to fund the plan.”
After the submission, the SACS commission will review and comment
on UH’s online compliance certification documents and
will send a team to campus between January and April 2008. The
team will assess educational strengths and weaknesses and provide
a written evaluation, which may include recommendations, to
the university. The commission will base its final decision,
which is expected to be announced in December 2008, upon the
“This is a great opportunity for the University of Houston
to step back and review its institutional effectiveness, what
we are doing and how we can improve, In addition, the reaffirmation
process will provide the university with up–to-date and
sage advice from experts in higher education,” Strickland
for more information on the UH SACS reaffirmation of accreditation.