The Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, reaffirmed Brenau University’s 10-year accreditation a Level V doctoral degree-granting institution, an action that followed the university’s unprecedented performance in the higher education accrediting agency’s detailed examination of Brenau academic programs and business practices.
At the annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., the SACS membership also named Brenau University President Ed L. Schrader to a two-year term on the commission’s Board of Trustees, which guides the organization’s work in the accreditation process for hundreds of public and private colleges and universities in 11 southern states, the Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico.
Schrader said both actions were a testament to Brenau’s extremely strong showing in the decennial accreditation review process – the highest level of review and credentialing for all of Brenau’s academic programs and administrative operations that support the university. The university passed the last major milestone to reaffirmation in March when the visiting independent team of SACS staff members and academics from other institutions around the country completed its on-site examination with only a single recommendation for improvement to a minor administrative process, a procedure that already had been addressed before the committee made its recommendation.
“This is a proud moment for Brenau, its faculty and its administration,” said Schrader. “This demonstrates that Brenau University takes the accreditation process very seriously at all levels and strives to provide the highest-quality education for Brenau students.”
Schrader, who has been involved with many SACS reviews of other institutions as both reviewer and “reviewee,” said he had “very rarely seen fewer than 12 or 13 recommendations of things the institution had to correct or address” before receiving complete re-affirmation – with many of those requiring major alterations to academic programs and practices. Since Brenau is undergoing some major growth in its transition from a master’s degree-level institution to a university that offers doctorates by adding and expanding both academic programs and educational platforms, including expansions to online studies, the clean review is doubly rewarding.
Following initial SACS approval last year, Brenau in the fall term opened the first classes for candidates for its new Doctor of Nursing Practice. The university plans to launch a doctoral program in occupational therapy and one other discipline during the next academic year.
The doctoral degrees are part of the Brenau 2025 strategic plan that envisions doubling enrollment to about 5,000 students in a little more than a decade with most of the growth in graduate-level programs. Brenau in the fall term set a new record for total enrollment with 2,819 students, more than 1,000 in graduate studies.
The SACS action provides the accreditation umbrella for all of the university’s existing degree and non-degree programs. However, specific programs within the university also hold additional accreditations from professional standards organizations for various disciplines including the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the Collegiate Commission for Nursing Education, Council for Interior Design Accreditation, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for teacher education programs, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the Masters in Psychology Accreditation Council, the National Association of Schools of Dance, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
SACS, one of six regional accreditation agencies in the United States sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education, accredits more than 13,000 public and private educational institutions, which range from preschool to college level, in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas, as well as schools for U.S. students in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
At the university level, the Commission on Colleges accredits public institutions, private colleges, military schools and community colleges. Each accredited institution has a vote in electing members of the overseeing Board of Trustees.
“To be elected to the board is a great personal honor for me,” Schrader said. “But I know that it is also recognition of the vision and hard work that the entire Brenau family continues to do in creating a truly remarkable institution that will serve as a model for higher education in the future.”