The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional body for accreditation of higher education institutions in the southern states. The University of Kentucky has been a SACSCOC accredited institution since 1915 (most recently reaffirmed in 2002). SACSCOC Accreditation is essential to the University's operation. Without it, the University of Kentucky cannot grant degrees, enroll students, or grant federal financial aid. We are now beginning the process of seeking reaffirmation of accreditation (to be decided in 2013).
The process for reaffirmation has changed considerably since our last SACSCOC visit where a single immense self-study document was prepared and submitted to SACSCOC. In 2002, SACSCOC approved an updated set of standards and guidelines. In place of the self-study, reaffirmation requires that the University prepare two documents, a Certification of Compliance and a Quality Enhancement Plan. Important changes involved reducing the 463 "must " statements for compliance to 16 Core Requirements and 59 Comprehensive Standards, along with an additional seven Federal Requirements. The rationale for this new reaffirmation process was to allow institutions to tailor their reports more directly to their individual missions and strategic plans. Along with this dramatic reduction in the number of "must " statements, an addition to the core requirements was put into place called a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).
"Reaffirmation" rather than "reaccreditation" reflects the view that accreditation is an ongoing state, not a status that must be renewed each decade. Under the new guidelines, it is understood that an accredited institution engages in constant and continual self-assessment. This self-assessment is goal oriented and outcome based, meaning that the institution has identified specific goals and established measures (outcomes) by which achievement of the goals may be assessed.