Regional Accreditation Committee Visits Southern Virginia this Week

Southern Virginia University welcomes to campus this week a candidacy committee from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional accreditation body that serves the southeastern United States.

The committee is comprised of higher education professionals, including a university president, who work at regionally accredited institutions that are similar to Southern Virginia in terms of their size, culture and curriculum.

“We are very pleased to welcome this team of highly qualified professionals to our campus,” said Southern Virginia President Rodney K. Smith. “We look forward to sharing with them, in person, more evidence of the superb education our students receive. The mammoth effort of seeking regional accreditation, in addition to our national accreditation, has helped us become even stronger as an institution. We look forward not only to sharing more about Southern Virginia, but also to learning from them based on their many years of experience in higher education.”

Based on their thorough review of the university’s application combined with observations from their visit to campus, the site team will make a recommendation this June to the Commission on Colleges as to whether Southern Virginia should then be granted initial candidacy for regional accreditation from SACS. The commission’s decision will subsequently be announced at the conclusion of its June meeting.

“The process of preparing for and applying for accreditation, whether national or regional, helps us to chart our progress and demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement,” said Southern Virginia Executive Vice President and Provost Paul S. Edwards. “This visit provides an opportunity for us to show the site team that what we have submitted on paper is true to life.”

Southern Virginia was regionally accredited until 1996 when declining enrollments and lackluster financial statements led SACS to revoke its accreditation. It was this event that helped usher in a new board of trustees and the adoption of a mission to serve the Latter-day Saint community. Five years of overall strong financial performance, along with many other factors, have brought the university to the point that it can reapply for regional accreditation.

Southern Virginia University is nationally accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education, having met its very rigorous standards regarding curriculum and teaching. The AALE, which derives its authority from the U.S. Department of Education, accredits institutions that offer quality general education programs in the liberal arts that meet stringent educational, administrative and financial criteria. Southern Virginia was pre-accredited by the AALE in 2000 and received full accreditation in 2003. In July 2008, the university’s accreditation was renewed for the usual period of five years.

The university also is certified to operate and grant baccalaureate degrees by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.