The University of Texas-Pan American received word Tuesday, Dec. 11 that The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges reaffirmed the accreditation of the University.
"This is extraordinary news for our University. Today we not only celebrate the reaffirmation of our accreditation, but our reaffirmed dedication to providing excellence in educational programming and opportunities to our students," Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, UTPA president, said.
Cárdenas said this news means UTPA has fully met the demanding criteria established by SACS, which administers the accreditation process for colleges and universities in 11 states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia every 10 years.
"It is important for our faculty, staff, students and all of South Texas, the state and nation to know that UTPA has been recognized by The Southern Association of Colleges and Universities as providing a true quality education to all who pass through our doors. Our employees and students can be proud to work here and to attend this wonderful institution," she said.
The reaffirmation work at UTPA was a three-year long process that included a self-study, a quality enhancement plan (QEP), and a review by an external visitation team. The University's QEP, a major component of the SACS accreditation process, focuses on improving student success in college algebra.
Dr. William L. Turk, UTPA assistant professor of political science and the SACS accreditation coordinator and liaison, said the entire process was very detailed and comprehensive.
"Everything from the groundskeeping to the graduate school was reviewed. We filed five all-inclusive paper and electronic reports, and we reported on everything from the President's Office to the painters who make our buildings so attractive," Turk said. "Two different groups of academics from universities all over the SACS 11-state region dissected everything we do at UTPA."
Turk said the announcement of the reaffirmation of accreditation signaled the end of a lengthy process, which involved the countless time and effort of about 150 members of the UTPA community - students, faculty and staff. The announcement was made during the annual SACS meeting held in New Orleans, which Turk attended with Dr. Paul Sale, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs.
"The final result of reaffirmation can be summed up quite simply. Every day thousands of employees work at UTPA and at the end of the day each one has made a terrific contribution to the education of thousands of students. The SACS assessment of the accumulation of those days of work is simply a confirmation of what this University is about - giving the best quality of everything associated with higher education to our students and community," Turk said.
Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review of an institution's educational programs and their adherence to accepted academic standards. It determines a school's eligibility for participation in Title IV (federal) and state financial aid programs as well as the acceptance and transfer of college credits of its students. Graduation from an accredited institution also qualifies its students for admission to higher education (graduate school), more specialized institutions or for professional practice. UTPA was first accredited in 1956.
For an overview of UTPA's reaffirmation of accreditation process, visit http://sacs.utpa.edu/sacs/.