SACS matters at Western, workshops explain why

CULLOWHEE – The university’s critical re-accreditation process is off to a running start, and the people who are managing that effort want you to know what’s going on, what’s coming up, and how you can be involved. For that reason, Carol Burton, Western’s director of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools review, is holding workshops on June 22 and 28 to explain the process, timelines and importance of the effort. (

“The SACS review process, while it is stressful, is a good thing for the university,” Burton told participants during the first session. “We are looking at where we are now as an institution and where we want to be in 10 years.”

She explained that the re-accreditation review is designed to determine whether universities are meeting the rigorous academic and operational standards established by their peers in the association. At the same time, it allows members to decide how they will improve what they are doing through a Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP.

As part of the process, Burton reported, various teams at Western are currently working on the strategic plan, unit- and university-wide assessments, employee data and faculty credentials. To participate in those discussions, call Burton at 227-7497 or send a message to .

Scott Philyaw, assistant professor of history and co-chair of the QEP Committee, explained that the QEP is a university-wide enterprise. After seeking ideas from as many divisions and sections as possible, the committee has selected one key area for improvement. Its working title is: “From Students to Educated Citizens; Learning Through Engagement.”

Philyaw said that means the university will enhance student learning by the application of knowledge, experiential education and professional endeavor in the regional and global community. In the future, Philyaw said, the committee again will involve as many members of the university community as possible, inviting suggestions to fine-tune the topic and to create a working plan that will achieve measurable results.

The next SACS workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28, from 2 until 3 p.m. in Room 203 of Jordan Phillips Field House.