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WILSON, N.C. – “Reaffirmed!” That announcement was music to the ears of all involved in Barton College’s recent application for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
On Friday, July 17, the president’s office received SACS’ official notification of reaffirmation, including a substantive change for Barton’s membership to be raised to Level III to include the offering of graduate programs. Following the 10-year cycle for SACS, Barton was last affirmed in December 1998.
“We at Barton have known for some time that we provide a quality academic environment that supports and inspires our students to achieve their goals,” said Dr. Norval C. Kneten, president of Barton College. “It is gratifying to have the recent Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ reaffirmation of our accreditation reiterate Barton’s recognition unconditionally.
“I am extremely grateful to all who worked tirelessly on the campus-wide self-study and on the development of Barton’s Quality Enhancement Plan,” he continued. “Dr. Claudia Duncan, chair of Barton College’s SACS Reaffirmation Steering Committee, and Patricia Burrus, chair of the QEP Leadership Team, provided extraordinary leadership during this lengthy and arduous project. Dr. Terry Grimes, vice president for academic affairs and the Barton College SACS liaison, and Richard Marshall, vice president for administration and finance, were particularly instrumental in moving this process to a successful conclusion. The quality of Barton College is a direct result of the quality of our faculty and staff.”
SACS describes accreditation as “both a process and a product that relies on integrity, thoughtful and principled judgment, rigorous application of requirements, and a context of trust. It provides an assessment of an institution’s effectiveness in the fulfillment of its mission, its compliance with the requirements of its accrediting association, and its continuing efforts to enhance the quality of student learning and its programs and services. Based upon reasoned judgment, the process stimulates evaluation and improvement, while providing a means of continuing accountability to constituents and the public.”
Barton’s reaffirmation process began with a self-study in 2005 to evaluate its compliance with the standards for accreditation established by SACS and culminated with the College’s submission of its Compliance Certification Report in March 2008, which was reviewed by an off-site committee in Atlanta in May of the same year. In September 2008, Barton hosted the SACS on-site committee, led by Dr. Rudolph Jackson, for the final phase of the evaluation process.
“Though it was an enormous amount of work, preparing for reaccreditation by SACS was a positive experience because it helped us reaffirm our mission and clarify our goals for Barton,” shared Dr. Terry Grimes, vice president for academic affairs. “We were very pleased that we received a rare commendation for our strategic planning from the SACS committee that made the on-site visit and feel that we are well prepared to meet the increasing challenges that higher education faces in the twenty-first century.”
The centerpiece for the institution’s recent evaluation was the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which was introduced by SACS as an integral part of the reaffirmation process. SACS leaders emphasize “the concept of quality enhancement is at the heart of the Commission on Colleges’ philosophy of accreditation – a philosophy that presumes each member institution to be engaged in an ongoing program of improvement and able to demonstrate how well it fulfills its mission.”
The Barton College community has embraced “Pathways To Writing Success” as its focus for quality enhancement on the Wilson campus. “Pathways” is a comprehensive program designed to intentionally and purposefully address and improve student writing across the disciplines over the next five years. The program will include the implementation of a series of writing-intensive courses throughout the academic experience.
This new initiative continues to support Barton College’s vision of “taking advantage of its smaller size and its historic commitment to students to create a unique undergraduate experience centered on a passionate belief in a community of active learners. Barton graduates will be well prepared for life and for success in their chosen careers because they will possess a lifelong commitment to learning, service, and achievement. We will gain national recognition for the value of the Barton experience.”
In May 1922, Barton College (then Atlantic Christian College) was recognized as a standard A-grade institution by the North Carolina Board of Education, and the College received initial accreditation by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1955.
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