By By Heather Sherrill
Earlier this month, 11 representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) came to North Lake for the college’s reaffirmation site visit.
During the 4-day evaluation, which included meetings, observations and interviews, the SACS group presented the exit report to an anxious crowd of faculty, staff and students, who were eager to hear the outcome. One by one, each representative discussed the areas of evaluation – strong commitment to education, use of Achieving the Dream data, focus on developmental reading, and solid faculty and staff. Questions were held until they finished their presentation.
There were no findings on faculty credentials, student learning outcomes, institutional effectiveness, student services, and physical or financial resources, all areas that commonly draw recommendations.
“We came through with flying colors!” said NLC Interim President Christa Slejko in an email to the entire college after the visit. “We received only four recommendations from the visiting team. This is an excellent showing.”
The first recommendation involves the ratio of full-time vs part-time credit hours taught by faculty. Although this is an important ratio for the campus as a whole, the finding was targeted at the community campuses, North and South.
“We have shown improvement in our ratios, but not yet enough to satisfy the committee,” Slejko said.
The second recommendation documents consortial relationships. This involves keeping records of any consortial or contractual agreements for instructional service.
“It is specifically targeted at our relationship with the Telecollege, particularly in the area of evaluating the relationship,” Slejko said. This recommendation will need to be addressed by all of the DCCCD colleges together with the LeCroy Center for Telecommunications.
Recommendations three and four are aimed at the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), both of which are minor and easy to address, Slejko said.
“One was in the form of a recommendation to narrow the scope of the iRead project, and the other was to provide greater detail on the assessment plan of the QEP,” said Slejko. “The iRead project has a component that includes non-course-based instruction. This is the element they suggest be removed from the official project.” These types of QEP recommendations are quite common, and other colleges in the DCCCD received similar recommendations on their QEP’s.
As host to the visiting team, North Lake received overwhelming kudos from their guests. Slejko said the Hospitality Team was outstanding, providing drivers, guides and other resources for the SACS team to have at their fingertips. All of the logistical details went perfectly, the IT resources, the facilities set-ups and the catering.
North Lake has five months to respond to the recommendations.
“It truly takes a village, and North Lake pulled together in their usual style to make us all look good. We are in very good shape to receive our formal reaccreditation in June,” Slejko said.
To put it in perspective, there are 84 Standards. We had recommendations on just four. As a reminder to focus on the positives of the visit, Slejko said, “As a Strengths campus, we need to focus on our strengths, rather than the four recommendations we received.”