The University of Texas-Pan American came one step closer this month to the end of its three year-long process of reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges.
A seven-person team, who were on campus April 16-19, reviewed the University's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), an element now required by SACS for accreditation, which fulfills SACS' mission to reflect and affirm a commitment to enhancing the quality of higher education through enriching student learning.
While at UTPA, the on-site committee of professional peers from the Commission on Colleges, examined data and conducted interviews with key UTPA officials, faculty and staff in order to evaluate the soundness of the QEP and to ascertain whether the institution is in compliance with the SACS principles of accreditation, standards that have been established over time to best ensure quality higher education by an institution that is accredited.
The QEP, developed by a 30-member team of UTPA faculty and staff members headed by Judy Davidson, director of UTPA's Writing Center, and QEP project coordinator Dr. Karen Watt, assistant professor in educational leadership and director of AVID, focuses on the first three algebra courses that UTPA students have the most difficulties in passing - MATH 1300 Elementary Algebra, MATH 1334 Intermediate Algebra and MATH 1340 College Algebra. Titled "Enhancing Learning for Mexican-American Students in Gatekeeper Mathematics Courses," the QEP will become part of UTPA's ongoing planning and evaluation process.
A QEP subcommittee comprised of faculty members Watt, Dr. Chad Richardson, Dr. George Eyambe, Dr. Hector Ochoa, Dr. Christina Villalobos, and Dr. William Turk, SACS accreditation coordinator and liaison, as well as staff members Dr. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Jeanette Broshears and Davidson worked diligently during the last year to complete the final document.
At a small celebratory gathering on April 24 of key UTPA participants in the SACS review process, UTPA President Blandina Cárdenas said she was pleased that the review team gave only five recommendations to improve the University's programs and refine its QEP.
UTPA is now required to submit a written response report to the SACS review team's written report recommendations by September 2007. Both the visiting committee's report and the response report to their findings will then be reviewed by the Committee on Compliance and Reports, a standing Commission of College committee that will recommend action on accreditation to the Executive Council of the Commission. The Executive Council in turn recommends action to the Commission on Colleges, which makes the final decision in December 2007.
For more information, log on to the SACS reaffirmation of accreditation Web site at http://sacs.utpa.edu/sacs. The entire 92-page QEP can be accessed at http://sacs.utpa.edu/qep/QEP_2007.pdf. Any questions can be directed to Turk at 956/381-3345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.