UVA Accreditation

On December 8-10th, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will meet for their annual conference. On their agenda will be the future of UVA’s accreditation. This page is designed to answer some of the questions surrounding this process and explain the implications for UVA as an institution.

What is accreditation?

The Department of Education states

In order to insure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Private educational associations of regional or national scope have adopted criteria reflecting the qualities of a sound educational program and have developed procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at basic levels of quality

Why does it matter?

The Department of Education lists 9 functions of accreditation:

  1. Verifying that an institution or program meets established standards;
  2. Assisting prospective students in identifying acceptable institutions;
  3. Assisting institutions in determining the acceptability of transfer credits;
  4. Helping to identify institutions and programs for the investment of public and private funds;
  5. Protecting an institution against harmful internal and external pressure;
  6. Creating goals for self-improvement of weaker programs and stimulating a general raising of standards among educational institutions;
  7. Involving the faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning;
  8. Establishing criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation; and
  9. Providing one of several considerations used as a basis for determining eligibility for Federal assistance.

What is SACs?

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the regional accreditation commission for 11 southern states including Virginia. UVA is accredited by SACs to award Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees. SACs Principles of Accreditation can be found here.

Why are they reviewing UVA’s accreditation status? 

On June 25, 2012, SACs sent a letter to UVA stating that:

the dismissal of President A. Teresa Sullivan taken by the University of Virginia (UVA) Board of Regentshave raised questions about UVA’s ongoing compliance with The Principles of Accreditation. In light of these circumstances and in accordance with the Commission’s policy on handling unsolicited information, I am requesting that the institution prepare a report that explains and documents the extent of compliance with the following standards:

Principle 1.1 Integrity
Core Requirement 2.2 Governing Board (in particular control)
Comprehensive Standard 3.7.5 Faculty Role in Governance

The response that the was sent to SACs was not deemed satisfactory and for this reason they will be meeting in December to decide the accreditation status of UVA. Actions could range from a mere warning to probation to withdrawing accreditation according to a letter sent by Bob Wheelen, vice President of SACs Commission on Colleges.

More information can be found here (this will be updated as events unfold)

Daily Progress Editorial 11/5

Cavalier Daily (A UVA PhD student’s take) 11/4 

Washington Post: UVA Accreditation Still at Risk 10/23

WINA interview with Faculty Senate President George Cohen 

Overview of June Events


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