The University is preparing to begin its 10-year reaffirmation process as it is looking to stay accredited after 2014.
Every institution in the nation needs to be accredited if they hope to receive federal funding. Programs like engineering, business and education cannot be accredited unless the University is as well, according to Vice Provost for Academic Programs T. Gilmour Reeve.
That being said, the University is undergoing reaffirmation — meaning it is already accredited and is looking to remain as such. Reaffirmation is a process that is renewed once every 10 years, and the Baton Rouge institution specifically has been going through the reaffirmation process for decades.
The University is one of 808 accredited institutions in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The standards for reaffirmation have become steadily more demanding in the last decade, Reeve said.
For example, SACS previously included “must” statements, which required responses in order to be reaffirmed. Now, more broad statements — called “statements of principles” — are used. Such instances include new federal requirements and an increase in the assessment of student learning. In order to be reaffirmed, the University must argue that its business is consistent with those principles.
Darrell Henry, director of SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation, said this process is largely about student learning.
“What these compliance issues are about are how we relate to all aspects of student learning, such as defining what the institution is, what the government structure is, where we fit in the LSU System and the courses we teach and the development of student learning outcomes and the environment of the campus,” Henry said.
As part of the reaffirmation process, the reviewers look through the University’s documents to find and verify any evidence of the activities of the college.
Voluntary members of related institutions are the reviewers in this case. For example, LSU will be judged by reviewers from universities including Florida, Florida State and Virginia Tech.
Reeve said the amount of work by the University faculty and staff should be appreciated. Some faculty members — such as Henry, who is also a member of the LSU geology department — have taken on multiple tasks to help complete this process.
“It’s critical that we mention the amount of work that this requires from staff and faculty,” Reeve said. “There’s no stipends provided to committee members. This is added work. This reaches out throughout the University and into every aspect of what we do.”