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SACS accreditation process nearing end; 'Ideas to Action' beginning

For the past two years, we have been engaged in gathering information on the university, our faculty, students and programs for our accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

That process almost is complete. We have presented SACS with a report, they have reviewed it and a committee will pay a site visit to campus April 10 and 11.

We have benefitted from this review opportunity, reviewing our own progress and finding areas in which we can improve.

One of the most important outcomes of the process has been development of our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which SACS requires of each institution it accredits. Faculty, students, staff and administrators worked together to create "Ideas to Action: Using Critical Thinking to Foster Student Learning and Community Engagement," a plan that will increase our focus on building students' critical thinking skills.

Incoming freshmen this fall will be the first to benefit from "Ideas to Action." It will take five to six years to fully implement the plan throughout a student's academic experience. While much of the QEP will take place in the classroom, it also will involve co-curricular activities with on-campus residents, student organizations and the Student Government Association. At the end of students' academic careers, they will have an opportunity to demonstrate their critical-thinking skills in a culminating experience, such as a thesis, service learning project, internship or capstone project.

Of course, we know that each course is different. Each student is different, and the ways in which students think are different. To make "Ideas to Action" a success, each academic unit will find the best way to teach its students to turn ideas to action: to teach them to think, evaluate, analyze and communicate clearly. The Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning will develop and provide faculty training programs to support Ideas to Action.

"Ideas to Action" is consistent with our mission and other priorities. It provides an exciting opportunity to build on what we're already doing, to better prepare our students to make a difference in their worlds.

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