Greenville Online Reports Accreditation
Greenville Online published an article today about BJU's decision to seek SACS accreditation (full disclosure I was interviewed for this article). The article is very good, it presents BJU's standard PR as well as featuring 3 graduates.
I wanted to point out a few things that came out of the article. First
Prior to 2001, SACS “judged schools on set criteria,” Keirstead said. “And then they moved into evaluating schools on is this school meeting its mission and its goals and does it have a process in place for constant assessment and improvement.
“That meant that a religious-based school, or Christian school in our case, could still maintain its mission.”
SACS “would not prohibit the teaching of creationism. That obviously would be very important,” Keirstead said.
SACS Commission on Colleges spokeswoman Pamela Cravey confirmed that accreditation wouldn’t require changing the curriculum.
“We don’t get into the content. That’s related to the university’s mission,” she said.
We already knew this. I outlined before that regional accreditation would not mean losing any religious freedom. And I outlined that TRACS accreditation was actually more invasive than SACS accreditation because it actually does dictate curriculum. I understand that the curriculum TRACS dictates BJU happens to believe in, but still they dictate that curriculum and SACS doesn't, that clearly makes TRACS more invasive. It is nice to have both of those myths put to rest and my work here vindicated.
Keirstead said the university isn’t sure what changes may be required to its policies and governance to become SACS accredited, and pursing an application doesn’t mean accreditation is a sure thing.
That is interesting because I do know what changes are required and I've only been reading for 48 hours. But this makes the entire announcement all the more curious. Why announce such an earth shattering announcement if you haven't even done an ounce of research to make sure you can attain such a lofty enterprise? Why get the hopes of all the students and alum up if you aren't even sure you can attain it. As Keirstead continued to say
“It would not be a matter of integrity to assume we’re going to get it,”
So...don't get your hopes up? Cause I think that is what happened on campus. As the following commentator illustrates.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Camille Lewis, a BJU grad and former professor at the fundamentalist Christian school. “This pursuit of regional accreditation is going to take them a long time. If they hadn’t made it such a spiritual issue for decades this wouldn’t be such a problem.”
She hopes it will result in some decentralization of power on campus.
“When this happens, students, faculty and alumni will have more of a voice, and that’s a good thing,” she said.
Paul Matzko told his story as well.
Paul Matzko, a 2007 BJU graduate, said Penn State initially denied his application for a doctoral program because of the lack of accreditation at his alma mater.
He ended up being accepted after appealing because he had earned a master’s degree from Temple, an accredited institution, and scratched Bob Jones off his application.
“I have friends who have been in situations like mine but didn’t have the benefit of another degree and who have been frozen out,” he said. “They had to shelve their plans for a career in academia. That’s the more normal story.”
And finally my story
Mark Rosedale, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BJU, said he wanted to be a teacher in California public schools but was turned down because of his undergraduate work being done at an unaccredited institution.
“I’m glad that they’re taking this first step, and I hope that it will culminate in full SACS approval in the near future,” he said. “I do regret, though, that it’s taken this many years with countless individuals hurt for them to finally take action.”
And then the article ended on the most salient point of all. And remember this is coming from SACS not BJU.
Accreditation, if it comes, is still years away, said Cravey, the SACS spokeswoman. It can take up to four years from the time the application is made, she said.
But as of yet the application hasn't even been made. According to BJU they haven't even researched it yet. From my understanding of what Keirstead said all BJU has done is approved the school to now "look into it." If that is the case we are far away from celebrating just yet.