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February 24, 2000

SACS accreditation team lauds ULM

The University of Louisiana at Monroe recently received a glowing endorsement from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in their 10-year Reaffirmation of Accreditation.

While findings from a number of different public and private institutions were formally announced at the December, 1999 SACS meeting in Atlanta, ULM was one of only two institutions invited to participate in a special breakfast roundtable session on self-study assessment.

ULM, which underwent the SACS Reaffirmation Site Visit in April 1999, received five Commendations praising aspects of the University's assessment and planning, academic program development, facilities, administrative structure and student services.

The Committee commended ULM:

-- for the establishment of the Consortium for Assessment and Planning Support.

-- for pursuing the approval and implementation of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program.

-- for constructing its new state of the art library facility.

-- for its decision to upgrade the Chief Student Affairs Officer position to the Vice President level.

-- for its high quality, diversified recreation and wellness program that is highly utilized and acclaimed by the student body.

In announcing the reaffirmation of its accreditation of ULM, the Report of the SACS Reaffirmation Committee said, "The Committee was unusually impressed by the thoroughness and completeness of the self-study process...the self-study process and its documents were exemplary and responsive to the detailed context required for a thorough reaffirmation and accreditation review."

The report went on to say, "Few, if any, institutions appear to subscribe more to the principles and processes of accreditation and to the Commission on College's requirements than does Northeast Louisiana University (as it was called at the time of the study)."

"We are certainly pleased with this review and wish to thank Dr. Tom Rakes, ULM Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, and Dr. Larry Kelley, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, for their leadership in this project. They, together with the SACS Steering Committee and all others involved with this assessment process are to be commended for a job well done," ULM President Lawson L. Swearingen, Jr., said. "This evaluation is particularly meaningful because it covers every aspect of University operations and will help to direct the University's course for the next decade."

In the Report, the Committee noted the assistance of ULM's Faculty Senate and its support of the University's administration.

"The leadership of the Faculty Senate was very positive about the current administration and felt that these leaders actively seek and value faculty input," the Report said.

In addition to the five Commendations, ULM received only two follow-up Recommendations. The two follow-up Recommendations primarily called for clarification in regard to on-going graduate program review and a statement in the Faculty Handbook. The process continues through May 1, 2000, when the institution will respond to these two recommendations.

"Our SACS effort has resulted in one of the most positive reviews I have seen in nearly 30 years," said Dr. Thomas Rakes, ULM Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. "To have a team of external experts offer a report featuring five commendations and only two recommendations indicates ULM is among the best in the South."

Accreditation is concerned principally with the improvement of educational quality throughout the region and ensuring to the public that institutions meet established regional standards. SACS accreditation signifies that the institution has a purpose appropriate to higher education and has resources, programs and services sufficient to successfully accomplish its purpose on a continuing basis.

ULM began the Self-Study process two years ago when Swearingen appointed the SACS Self-Study Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was composed of Chairs of individual working committees that reviewed and responded to specific SACS Criteria for Accreditation, addressing virtually all campus operations. These committees totaled approximately 100 faculty, staff, students and alumni.

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