Dr. Seymour’s Message to Students Concerning SACSCOC Report
While we are all disappointed by the report from SACSCOC last week, I want you to know that there is no reason to be alarmed. As we have learned, seeking reaffirmation is a process - one that we have not yet completed. Please keep in mind out of all of the SACSCOC requirements (80+) there are only three where we are not yet fully compliant. It is only because of one that we received the period of warning - 2.5 Institutional Effectiveness. You cannot be reaffirmed if you still have work to do on a core requirement.
This finding does not mean that we are an ineffective institution. As we know, we have many examples of excellence. Our award winning programs in math education and service learning are just two examples. Another great example is our effectiveness to produce graduates. TBR statistics show that while CSCC is #12 in terms of enrollment size, we are 8th among our sister community colleges in graduating students with degrees and certificates. To me, that spells effectiveness.
So, why the SACSCOC finding on 2.5? This means that we have not yet demonstrated a college-wide system of coherent and consistent planning and assessment. To me, they want to see that we have established a sound culture of planning and assessment that ensures comprehensive effectiveness over time (accountability). It’s kind of like a math teacher who does not only want to see the right answer, but also how you achieved that outcome.
I have every confidence that we can overcome this issue. In fact, we have already started developing our campus-wide system/culture of planning. This past spring semester, the President’s Cabinet approved a comprehensive annual planning calendar that lays out month-by-month what we will do to advance our planning and assessment efforts. This plan calls for a process of establishing annual goals that connect individual, departmental/divisional goals with our institutional goals.
This Spring, the Cabinet also approved a process and calendar for developing our next Strategic Plan - one that will involve the campus and local community in ways that we have never done before. Students will definitely play a critical role. Once completed, we will make sure our annual plans are directly tied to our strategic goals. This is another significant step to developing that system and culture of planning that will ensure full compliance with the SACSCOC core requirement.
Then you might ask - "If we are planning to do all these good things, why did SACSCOC give us the warning?" The simple answer is that SACSCOC only judges a school based on what they have done - what they have completed. They do not consider what you might do in the future, only what you have demonstrated and documented that you have accomplished. So, that is exactly what we need to do.
The most important thing to know is that CSCC is fully accredited. We have been provided an additional period to complete the 10 year reaffirmation process on just a few remaining items. The quality of our education has never been better and we have never had a finding about our financial health. We are taking the steps necessary to be fully compliant, and we are confident we will be reaffirmed in the near future.
I can assure you that we are taking this matter very seriously, and we will make every effort to ensure full compliance. If I have learned anything in my first six months, it's that we are a resilient and dedicated group of faculty and staff who are committed to making your experience the best possible. We will fix this. If you have questions and would like to sit down to discuss them, we will make it a priority to do so.
Dr. Bill Seymour
PO Box 3570
Cleveland, TN 37320-3570