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PCC Making Strides toward Re-Accreditation

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College’s re-accreditation efforts are taking shape as the school moves closer to an on-site visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC).

Receiving the SACS-COC seal-of-approval is critical to PCC’s future. Without it, the college would no longer be eligible to receive state funding (70 percent of its current budget revenue), and students could not apply for federal financial aid, which would adversely affect 60 percent of those currently enrolled.

Accreditation also ensures that the courses PCC students complete and the degrees they attain are recognized by other educational institutions.

With that in mind, PCC employees have taken measures to ensure members of the SACS-COC visitation committee find the college in compliance with their organization’s standards when they visit Sept. 18-20, 2012.

“We’re making excellent progress with our SACS preparations,” PCC President G. Dennis Massey said this month. “… This is a real marathon, and we’re taking one step at a time.”

On Monday, Dr. Stephanie Rook, dean of PCC’s Arts and Sciences Division, provided the latest details on Pitt’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), a key component in the re-accreditation process that pertains to the enhancement of student learning.

Rook, who chairs the QEP Development Team, said PCC’s plan focuses on improving academic advising and career planning services, since both play a critical role in student persistence and completion. The QEP topic, she said, was selected earlier this year by a team of employees that conducted surveys and research to identify barriers to student learning.

Rook said one way the college intends to implement its QEP is to enhance the school’s first-year college student success course. She said in the future, the course may require students to complete Career Readiness Certificate testing, an online interest inventory, a goal-setting assignment, and a career project that includes an interview.

Rook said PCC would also take steps to increase access to academic advising by opening new advising centers on campus for Construction and Industrial Technology and Public Service/Fine Arts students. The college has already opened advising centers for University Transfer and Business Division students, she said.

According to Rook, the college also intends to establish an Academic Advising Committee, which will include representation from the school’s Academic Affairs and Student Services divisions and student body.

Career planning improvements, Rook said, will include utilizing the college’s career planning resources and integrating a web-based career inventory into the admissions process so students will begin to develop plans for what they want to do professionally before they ever enter a PCC classroom.

Rook said Pitt counselors would also work with students regarding career counseling and added that faculty and staff would be offered professional development opportunities that focus on career planning for students.

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

At the conclusion of their visit, they will provide written advice to PCC administrators, develop a consensus of 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 visit, SACS-COC members will review all of the steps Pitt has taken toward re-accreditation and either affirm or deny accreditation status.

By accepting accreditation, PCC must agree to undergo a review every 10 years to ensure it continues to maintain SACS standards.