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U of M's Accreditation Is Renewed by Oversight Body
For release: Dec. 12, 2005
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The Southern Association of College and Schools has reaffirmed the accreditation of the University of Memphis. The announcement was made at the SACS meeting in Atlanta last week.

The SACS approval means that the University has fully met the demanding criteria established by the U.S. Department of Education and SACS, which administers the accreditation process for colleges and universities in 11 states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

The three-step reaffirmation process began in 2002 and involved more than 250 faculty, students, and staff. Initially, the University submitted reports to SACS that explained how the University was meeting accreditation standards. SACS administrators reviewed the reports in 2004 and made an on-site visit to the University in May 2005.

Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the University, was pleased with the SACS decision and thanked the University faculty, staff, and students who participated in the on-campus part of the process. "This news, which happens once every ten years, is significant," Raines said. "Accreditation on 72 standards that are performance-driven means we have documented our accomplishments. The extensive faculty involvement and the student focus were the hallmarks of our successful plan."

SACS-accredited universities are required to devise a "quality enhancement plan" to enhance student learning. The University of Memphis plan involves the creation of freshman learning communities – combinations of courses in which students would enroll as a group and in which class assignments would be coordinated through cooperation among the faculty members teaching those courses. Four such communities are being developed for the fall 2006 freshman class – one on science and the arts, one on the environment, one on film and communication, and one on the learning sciences (combining psychology and computer gaming).

The freshman learning communities program complements a program known as living-learning communities, composed of students studying similar subject areas who live together as well. These "learning" communities, which will not be restricted to freshmen, have already been created, and University housing is being constructed that will serve as the "living" communities where those students will live on campus. Future students might have the opportunity to be part of both types of communities.

This week's reaffirmation announcement by SACS extends the University's accreditation for a 10-year period. The University will not have to undergo the process again until 2015.

SACS officials were complimentary of the University's approach to the accreditation process, which they considered so well thought out and executed that SACS asked University administrators to make two presentations at the SACS meeting in Atlanta. Dr. Dan Poje, who was instrumental in the University's role in the process, has also been asked to visit other universities to discuss the U of M's approach.

"We're very proud of the cooperation and the support we received from the entire University community," Poje said. "That support was very important to the successful outcome of the accreditation process."

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