The University of Dallas is currently undergoing the process of renewing its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The process takes ten years to complete and involves making sure the university is up to date on 72 standards, which are set out by the Department of Education and UD’s regional accreditor. The standards include anything from verifying the employment of qualified faculty and administrators to certifying the use of student support services and appropriate graduation rates.
Reaffirmation of accreditation is submitted every ten years. UD submitted its five year check-in report in 2019 and is coming up on its ten year reaffirmation, which is due in September 2023. Cherie Hohertz, assistant provost, who is overseeing the accreditation process, said: “[SACS] found nothing to be out of compliance [with] our fifth year report. So we expect that our ten year reaffirmation will hopefully go smoothly.”
After the report is submitted, an offsite committee will review the report and may send requests for more information on any standards that they cannot verify compliance with from what has been submitted. If so, UD will have about six weeks to write a follow-up report.
Next, an onsite committee will come to the university — usually about seven people — and will spend four days on campus and review all information that has been submitted by inspecting facilities and taking a campus tour to meet with students and faculty. The committee is scheduled to arrive on campus on March 4, 2024 and remain until March 7. During those four days, they will document what has been submitted in UD’s reaffirmation report.
Once the committee leaves, they will send a report to UD notifying the university of whether or not it is in compliance with all of the standards. If UD fails to comply with any standards, it will have one year to document compliance with those standards.
Accreditation is very important because if the university is not accredited by SACS, UD will be ineligible to receive federal financial aid.
The Sanjay & Gupta School of Business is also undergoing accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and preparing for its onsite visit, which will take place on Oct. 2-4.
The interim dean of the business school, Dr. Susan Rhame, said: “Last March, we had a pre-visit by our Peer Review Team Chair who was able to provide us with helpful comments on the draft of our report. The report was completed over the summer, and now we are preparing for the actual onsite visit. Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, Dr. Greg Bell, has been instrumental in leading faculty workshops and providing preparatory videos so that everyone will be well prepared for the visit.”
An important part of the reaffirmation process is the submission of a Quality Enhancement Plan. The QEP is a large-scale campus project that, in some way, enhances student learning or student success. Topics were submitted for the QEP last year and a committee narrowed those down to three topics, followed by a campus vote. Several town hall meetings for students and faculty were held as well. The chosen QEP topic for the current submission is the art of oratory.
“We feel like at all levels of the university — undergraduate and graduate — we teach our students to write very well, but we have not done as good of a job at teaching them to speak as well. So, over the next year, a committee will write the QEP and then it’s a five year implementation. So we’ll be asking for some student input in the coming months as we write the QEP and figure out how to best integrate this into the curriculum at all levels,” Hohertz said.
Hohertz commented that the process of reaffirming the school’s accreditation is an effort that encompasses every part of the university.
“It’s a campus wide process. There are people all around campus that are involved in this — faculty certainly, student life, administration, really everyone. And we will be asking students to get involved too, especially for the QEP, and we will be asking students to be involved when our onsite committee happens — they always want to meet with students. We welcome student input and there will be ways to get involved,” she said.
UD is prepared for the respective onsite committees to arrive on campus. Dr. Jonathan Sanford, president of the university, said, “We’ve been thinking about it and planning for it, and we’re in the fortunate position of not having to pretend we do what we say we do.”
Correction – 9/29/2022 5:50 PM: The QEP topic is the art of oratory, not public speaking.