As USF Week came to a close and students prepared for Bullstock, professors and administrators on campus had cause of their own to celebrate outside the annual festivities.
On Thursday, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) concluded its on-site visit of USF and gave what Provost Ralph Wilcox called an exemplary review in its preliminary findings.
“The committee couldn’t have been more satisfied with the findings of their deep and broad-based assessment of our university,” Wilcox wrote in an email to university leaders Thursday. “They both noted how rare it is for an institution of USF’s size and complexity to advance through such an extensive reaffirmation process without any recommendations.”
While the university strives for many accolades and awards every year, the committee came to re-evaluate USF for its accreditation.
For those who are unfamiliar with what accreditation is, Wilcox described it as a method for a university’s credentials to be evaluated. When a university loses accreditation, students would be ineligible to receive federal financial aid, face problems transferring to another university or applying to graduate school and research from the institution would lose credibility.
Essentially, losing accreditation could mean losing the value of the university’s degree.
“Frankly, nothing is more important than getting that national stamp of approval,” Wilcox said in an interview with The Oracle.
While the on-site committee met with over 200 students, staff, faculty and the Board of Trustees, an off-campus committee is also evaluating the university based on a 1,500 page document USF submitted outlining academic and strategic goals and functions.
Wilcox attributed much of the committee’s positive review to USF’s Quality Enhancement Plan, or the Global Citizens Project, which is designed to prepare students for a global society through increased study abroad opportunities and globalizing many degree programs and general education courses.
Now with the accreditation committee’s approval, Wilcox said the university will continue to rapidly implement the Global Citizens Project into more programs over the next few months.
“It’s the benchmark we’ve set for ourselves and I couldn’t be more delighted for our university,” he said.
The final decision for accreditation, as well as a full report on the SACSCOC evaluation, will come to a vote at a board meeting in December.