By Gary D. Myers
NEW ORLEANS -- The Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has reaffirmed accreditation for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the next ten years.
The announcement of the seminary’s accreditation reaffirmation came during SACSCOC annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 6.
SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Accredited schools participate in the SACSCOC reaffirmation process every 10 years.
“We are delighted with the reaffirmation of our accreditation by SACSCOC for a full ten years, the maximum time they allow for this status,” said NOBTS President Chuck Kelley. “This decision is a tribute to the excellent work of our faculty, the thoughtful oversight of our Trustees, and the day in and day out effort of our staff.”
“We remain passionately committed to doing all within our power to provide excellent preparation for ministry to all of those answering the call of God,” Kelley continued.
Accreditation reaffirmation is much more than a once-per-decade formality – it is a comprehensive examination of the institution – the academic equivalent to a forensic audit. The demanding process reaches to every corner of the seminary and takes about two years of disciplined work to complete.
The reaffirmation process begins with a compliance audit completed by the institution. The school reviews data from the past 10 years, accessing the quality of academic programs and seeking ways to improve. Documentation is an essential aspect of the compliance. This work is completed by an accreditation leadership team composed of faculty members, administrators, and staff members.
After this intensive compliance study is complete, a compliance report is developed by the institution and submitted to the SACSCOC office. The document addresses how the school is conforming to the accreditation standards agreed upon by member schools and how the school is documenting this compliance. The last step of the process includes a visiting team composed of academic peers as well as a member of the SACSCOC staff.
The visiting committee completes a report based on the interviews conducted during the on-site visit and the report submitted by the institution. In the report, the on-site team recommends the action to be taken at the next SACSCOC annual meeting. The team has the option to recommend reaffirmation or to recommend that a school be placed on probation or meeting a certain benchmark for improvement before reaffirmation.
As a part of the reaffirmation, SACSCOC requires schools to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) designed to provide measurable improvement in an academic area. NOBTS developed a QEP designed to improve academic writing. The plan calls for a host of writing helps, resources and services for students.
Known on campus as “The Write Stuff,” the most visible aspects of the QEP initiative is the new NOBTS writing center which opened on Feb. 16. While the QEP is focused upon the graduate students, the writing center and online resources will be available for all students
In addition to accreditation by SACSCOC, NOBTS maintains accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). After NOBTS finished its portion of the SACSCOC reaffirmation process, the school immediately moved into the reaffirmation process with ATS. To date the ATS site visit and visiting team report are complete and the results will be announced by the ATS Commission on Accreditation in 2017.