The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is one of six, private, voluntary, nonprofit regional accrediting associations in the United States. SACS, which was established in 1895, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to "improve education in the South through accreditation."
SACS is comprised of three Commissions: the Commission on Elementary and Middle Schools, the Commission on Middle and Secondary Schools, and the Commission of Colleges.
The Commission of Colleges (COC) was created in 1912 to focus on developing standards for quality programs in higher education. The COC accredits institutions of higher education in eleven southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) and Latin America. The COC has been a leader in defining and implementing the concept of "institutional effectiveness" in higher education and is known for having the most stringent requirements.
Why Accreditation is Important
Accreditation by a recognized regional accrediting association (such as SACS) is required of higher education institutions in order for them to be eligible to receive federal funding.
Accreditation is important to higher education institutions because it permits our students to have access to federally-subsidized financial aid, allows our faculty to compete for federal research grants, and ensures that the courses and degrees our students receive will be recognized by other institutions.
Without accreditation status, Pitt Community College would not be eligible for any of the above. If PCC lost accreditation, the college would lose approximately 70% of its revenue and approximately 60% of its current students could not afford to attend.
Accreditation by SACS indicates that the institutions "has a purpose appropriate to higher education and has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish that purpose on a continuing basis. Accreditation evaluates whether an institution maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers and whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives."
Steps of the Accreditation Process
- Preparation and self-examination: Pitt Community College will create a written report of our accomplishments according to the standards set by the accreditation organization.
- Peer review: Administrative and faculty peers conduct an intensive review of the prepared materials, written report, and general workings of Pitt Community College.
- Visit and examination: A visit team, made up of peers and members of the public who volunteer their time because of a strong interest in the quality standards of higher education, will visit Pitt Community College September 18-20, 2012 examining data and conducting interviews.
- Judgment action made by accreditation organization: The COC will review the previous steps and affirm or deny accreditation status for Pitt Community College.
- Continuous review: By accepting accreditation status, Pitt Community College agrees to undergo a review on a rotating basis every 10 years. An institution is usually required to go through all the steps of the accreditation process each time it is reviewed. The purpose of the continuous review is to ensure that Pitt Community College continues to maintain the required accreditation status.