Nicholls State University has been continuously accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges since 1964 and continues to be so. In order to maintain this accreditation status, the university must submit both five and ten year reports documenting compliance with its Principles of Accreditation. The five year report is a new addition to the accreditation requirements and Nicholls’ first report was submitted in March 2012, following the 10-year report submitted in 2006 which heeded a reaffirmation of accreditation with no recommendations.
Nicholls State is respectful of the accreditation review process as it allows it to continually assess its progress relative to peer institutions. Nicholls has recently learned that the five year report has resulted in a “warning” from its accrediting agency because the report did not provide enough evidence that Nicholls (1) employs an adequate number of full-time faculty to fulfill its mission and (2) identifies expected outcomes, assesses student achievement, and provides evidence of improvement in the area of educational programs and student learning.
Although we in south Louisiana are very familiar with the seriousness of “warnings” during hurricane season, it must be noted that a “warning” is the less serious of the two sanctions that may be levied against an institution during early stages of review. Preliminary information indicates additional documentation is needed for the number of full-time faculty members needed to support the university’s mission and the expected student-learning outcomes related to educational programs. Although Nicholls is required to submit a monitoring report by the end of 12 months, the administration will address the issue immediately upon further clarification from SACS-COC. The university looks forward to receiving greater specificity from SACS regarding this warning later this month.
It is important to note that Nicholls State University’s accreditation remains intact. Administration views this warning as an opportunity to more closely review its compliance with accepted accrediting practices – especially in light of the fact that the 10-year report will be submitted in 2016. We are confident our administration, faculty and staff will demonstrate Nicholls’ ability to meet challenges and continuously improve as a result of these challenges.