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On-Site SACS Visit Less Than a Year Away

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College is less than a year away from an onsite visitation from representatives with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), a key step in Pitt’s bid for re-accreditation.

Receiving the SACS-COC seal-of-approval is critical to PCC’s future. Without it, the college could not receive state funding (70 percent of its current budget revenue), and students would not be eligible for federal financial aid, which would adversely affect 60 percent of those currently enrolled. Accreditation also ensures that the courses PCC students take and the degrees they receive will be recognized by other educational institutions.

With that in mind, PCC faculty, staff and administrators have been hard at work, making sure a SACS-COC visitation committee finds the college is in compliance with their organization’s standards. The committee, which is comprised of peers from educational institutions across the South, will be on campus to assess PCC’s educational strengths and weaknesses Sept. 18-20, 2012.

"Sounds like a ways in the distance," said PCC President G. Dennis Massey. “But those who are involved in the many committees, working on documenting compliance with accreditation standards, know that it is a long and complex endeavor of focusing on our work from many perspectives and then sharing it with a team of our peers from other states."

Dr. Brian Miller, assistant to the president of director of institutional effectiveness, stressed the importance of documentation in Pitt’s re-accreditation effort.

“It’s important to document what we do; if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen,” he said. “Documentation demonstrates that we are following our own policies and that we are planning and ensuring student success.”

One step in the accreditation process required PCC to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that addresses a well-defined topic or one or more issues related to improving student learning. After gathering a wide range of input from across campus, a team of faculty, staff and administrators chose “Career Planning and Academic Advising” as PCC’s QEP topic since both can play a critical role in student persistence and completion.

When they visit campus next fall, the SACS-COC committee members will examine data and conduct interviews to evaluate the soundness of Pitt’s QEP.

At the conclusion of their visit, committee members will provide written advice to PCC administrators, develop a consensus on their findings, and complete a draft report. They will also present an oral summary during an exit report to Massey and invited PCC officials on the final day of their visit.

Following the on-site team’s visit, the SACS-COC will review the steps PCC has taken toward re-accreditation and either affirm or deny accreditation status.

By accepting accreditation status, PCC would agree to undergo a review on a rotating basis every 10 years to ensure it continues to maintain SACS standards.