Saturday, February 06, 2010

PIU Challenges for 2010 #2 - Accreditation Responsibilities

A few weeks ago I began a series of blog posts on the challenges we face at PIU in the year 2010 with a post on the challenge of student development. I promised future posts on other challenges, but challenge #2 - accreditation responsibilities- has been occupying so much of my time lately I have not had time to write the post. We began the accreditation process with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) back in 1999 when we became a candidate for accreditation. Since then we received full accreditation in 2004 and were reaffirmed for accreditation as an  undergraduate and graduate degree granting institution in 2009. Last year we had an evaluation team from TRACS come out to Guam to thoroughly assess every aspect of our program. They left us with 39 "recommendations" for areas of deficiency that we needed to work on before we met with the accreditation commission in November. We completed our response to the recommendations and met with the commission where we received our reaffirmation. However, the condition that TRACS placed on our accreditation was that we continue to work on 33 of the 39 recommendations and send them a second response on February 15th.

So we have been working hard the last few weeks on revising Handbooks, Catalogs and other documents, working on long range plans, recruiting and hiring for positions that TRACS is asking us to fill and getting our written response ready for February 15th. I am happy to say that we are about 95% ready and should have no problem getting everything emailed with hard copies in the regular mail before the deadline. God has given us some great staff and administrators who have done great work to make this happen and I am thankful for their hard work.

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a Christian leader about what we are going through to get this accomplished and he questioned me about why we are doing it. He felt that accreditation was a waste of time. I thought about it a bit after he asked me. After all it is a lot of work. The easy answer is that it provides our students with eligibility for federal programs to finance their tuition and makes the school eligible for federal and foundation grants. This is a very important part of our strategy to make higher education accessible to the people of the Pacific islands. But there is a much more important reason that we maintain accreditation. Accreditation holds us accountable to provide EXCELLENT higher education to our students. We believe that our students are just as capable as those from any other part of the world and deserve an education that stretches and challenges them just as much as any school on the US mainland. We do not believe that "Christian" education should equal "second rate" academics. We have improvements to make in this area but I am amazed at how far God has brought us since 1999. I am also proud of our graduates who have gone on to advanced degree programs in the US and done well. Even though it is a lot of work, I believe that this is the best way to serve our students and the communities where they live.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Amen, Dave!

The accreditation process is more than financial aid; it is a means of affirming and improving the quality of the education offered at an institution. The TRACS process recognizes the signficance of the Christian orientation and mission of our colleges--AND encourages us to continue to improve.

I am pleased my college is part of TRACS.

Jim Noseworthy
Hiwassee College