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Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Accreditation is a form of self-regulation and quality assurance in higher education. SACSCOC is the recognized regional accrediting body for higher education institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, masters or doctoral degrees in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) and in Latin America. Reaffirmation of accreditation requires the submission of a Fifth Year Interim Report (FYIR), decennial Compliance Certification Report (CCR), the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), off-site and on-site reviews, and review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

The College’s 2015 Accreditation Compliance Report, a nearly 500-page document, was submitted to SACSCOC in February 2015. A subsequent on-site visiting committee of representatives from peer institutions from across Southern states took place in March 2015. As part of the reaffirmation process, faculty-led teams also developed the College’s SACSCOC-required quality enhancement plan (QEP), R-Compass. R-Compass is an exciting initiative that aims to help prepare undergraduate Rollins students for their lives and careers after graduation by integrating career preparation tools, training, and resources into the faculty-student advising relationship.

On December 8, 2015, at the SACSCOC annual meeting, Rollins College’s regional accreditation was reaffirmed with no recommendations for improvement. The College’s accreditation is assured through 2025 when the next decennial review will occur. Rollins was first accredited by SACSCOC in 1927 and has been continuously accredited since that time. The College will submit a Fifth Year Interim Report (FYIR) in Spring 2021.

“A successful comprehensive continuing-accreditation study demands the attention of the entire campus community,” said Rollins President Grant Cornwell. “This outcome demonstrates how much we all are committed to Rollins and believe in our shared work.”

Craig McAllaster, interim vice president for Academic Affairs and interim provost at the time, and then co-chair of the College’s ALT, noted, “Reaffirmation without recommendations would not have been possible without the efforts of the many faculty and staff members who contributed to compliance documents and QEP project development.”

“This reaffirmation confirms that Rollins’ mission is appropriate; that we have the resources, programs, and services in place to accomplish and sustain our mission; and that we have demonstrated to our peers our achievement of goals and ongoing improvements related to that mission,” said Assistant Provost for Institutional Effectiveness Toni Holbrook, co-chair of the College's ALT.

According to Udeth Lugo, the College’s director of institutional research and SACSCOC liaison, “Reaffirmation by our regional accrediting agency recognizes the quality of a Rollins College education, the hard work of faculty and staff, and the College’s commitment to student success. Quality improvement is a continuous process at Rollins, as we are constantly seeking to improve our process and outcomes, through ongoing measurement, reflection, and innovation.”

Regional Accreditation 101

Q. What is accreditation?

A. Accreditation is a form of self-regulation and quality assurance in higher education. In the U.S., accreditation is coordinated by a non-governmental non-profit organization, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). There are seven U.S. Department of Education-recognized regional accrediting organizations: Rollins’ regional accreditor is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is authorized to accredit institutions in many southern states as well as in several international locations. SACSCOC, which is comprised of its members, Rollins among them, accredits institutions that have missions appropriate to higher education, devote resources to carrying out those missions, and can show that they do, in fact, achieve those missions.

Q. Does Rollins really need to be accredited?

A. For starters, institutions that want access to federal financial aid for their students must be regionally accredited. So, yes: Rollins needs to be accredited.

Q. Is accreditation something new?

A. No. As more and more students began attending colleges across the U.S., accreditation organizations formed in the late 19th and 20th centuries to ensure consistency in academic standards across institutions. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was founded in 1895; the Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) was founded in 1917, “and was organized to develop standards and a process for accrediting colleges and universities in the South,” according to the organization’s website. Rollins was first accredited by SACSCOC in 1927, and has been continuously accredited since that time.

Q. How often must an institution seek a reaffirmation of its accreditation?

A. An accredited institution like Rollins seeks a reaffirmation of accreditation every 10 years by undertaking a detailed self-study of its practices and submitting a required Compliance Certification Report (CCR) demonstrating its adherence to regional standards. For SACSCOC, a Quality Enhancement Plan and project are required, along with a Fifth Year Interim Report (FYIR) in intervening years. The CCR shows the extent to which Rollins complies with each of the Core Requirements and Standards presented in the Principles of Accreditation.

Q. How many requirements, standards, and regulations are there?

A. SACSCOC currently asks accredited institutions to assure institutional compliance with about 100 core requirements or principles. While some of these do not apply to Rollins (e.g., questions about the associate’s degree or distance learning), we must still respond to each one, even if we only say, “This standard does not apply to Rollins.” The Principles of Accreditation include the two categories noted above: Core Requirements and Standards.

Q. Give an example of a standard.

A. Here are four examples that show just some of the breadth and depth of the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation core requirements and standards.

  • Section 7.1: Institutional Planning. The institution engages in ongoing, comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation processes that (a) focus on institutional quality and effectiveness and (b) incorporate a systematic review of institutional goals and outcomes consistent with its mission. [Core Requirement]
  • Section 8.1: Student Achievement: The institution identifies, evaluates, and publishes goals and outcomes for student achievement appropriate to the institution's mission, the nature of the students it serves, and the kinds of programs offered. The institution uses multiple measures to document student success. [Core Requirement]
  • Section 9.1: Program Content. Educational programs (a) embody a coherent course of study, (b) are compatible with the stated mission and goals of the institution, and (c) are based on fields of study appropriate to higher education. [Core Requirement]

Q. Reaffirmation of accreditation sounds pretty demanding.

A. It is. Completing the CCR required the collaboration of the entire campus. In addition, each claim that Rollins makes in the CCR must be backed up by documentation, in much the same way that a scholarly article would footnote its sources. Nearly 2,200 documents were gathered in completing the 2015 Rollins CCR.

Q. What if Rollins undergoes a dramatic change? Does that affect our accreditation?

A. SACSCOC defines “Substantive Change” as a significant departure from, modification of, or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Some changes require only that SACSCOC is notified in advance; others require that a prospectus describing the proposed change be submitted at least six months prior to the start date of a new program. Others may require not only a prospectus, but also full documentation and a site visit from a SACSCOC substantive change committee. Rollins had its most recent substantive change site visit when it desired to offer a doctoral degree; this proposal changed Rollins’s SACSCOC institution level (from III, bachelor’s, to V, which allows us to offer up to three doctoral degrees) and, thus, required the onsite visit.

Q. Is SACSCOC emphasizing anything now?

A. SACSCOC is emphasizing assessment of student learning, use of assessment results to improve learning, and the demonstration of student achievement. 

Q. What is the Quality Enhancement, or QEP, Plan I’ve heard about?

A. The Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, has been a reaccreditation requirement for about 20 years now. SACSCOC asks all institutions to develop a QEP that (a) has a topic identified through its ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation processes; (b) has broad-based support of institutional constituencies; (c) focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success; (d) commits resources to initiate, implement, and complete the QEP; and (e) includes a plan to assess achievement. Rollins developed its 2015 QEP following extensive campus conversations; the 2015 QEP, R-Compass, focused on integrating career planning into academic planning and advising. Rollins can nominate at least two experts as QEP reviewers; SACSCOC will choose one, who will be part of the site-visit team.

Q. What are the next reporting dates for regional accreditation?

A. The College will submit a Fifth-Year Interim Report consisting of an abbreviated compliance certification and an impact report for the College's QEP, to SACSCOC in March 2021. The College's next decennial reaffirmation Compliance Report will be due to SACSCOC in Spring of 2025.

Q. Where do I go for more information?

A. Go to for SACSCOC’s own “frequently asked questions” section.

Last Updated 3-26-2019

Accreditation Leadership Team (ALT)

Dr. Grant H. Cornwell, President

Dr. Susan R. Singer, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Co-Chair

Dr. Toni S. Holbrook, Assistant Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Co-Chair; Co-Chair, Demonstration of Learning Team

Dr. Mamta Accapadi, Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Gabriel Barreneche, Associate Dean for Advising/Co-Director, QEP/R-Compass; Professor of Spanish, College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Jennifer Cavenaugh, Dean of Faculty, College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Fiona Harper, Co-Chair, Demonstration of Learning Team; Associate Professor of Biology, College of Liberal Arts

Mr. Matt Hawks, Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Risk Management

Mr. Ed Kania, Vice President for Business and Finance and Treasurer

Dr. Lorrie Kyle, Executive Director, Office of the President

Mr. Udeth A. Lugo, Director, Institutional Research; SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison

Ms. Trish Moser, Director of Special Projects, Division of Student Affairs

Dr. Deborah Prosser, Director, Olin Library

Dr. William (Bill) Seyfried, Professor of Economics/Associate Dean for Academics, Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business

Mr. William (Bill) Short, Associate Vice President for Finance and Assistant Treasurer

Dr. Faye Tydlaska, Vice President for Enrollment Management

2021 SACSCOC Fifth Year Interim Report

Background, Components, and Timeline

Philosophy and Rationale

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC or Commission) is one of only a few U.S. accrediting organizations that conducts a comprehensive review of its members institutions once every 10 years. Most accreditors conduct such reviews every five to seven years. The Fifth‐Year Interim Report (FYIR) was developed by SACSCOC to respond to the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements that regional accreditors (1) continuously monitor institutions to ensure compliance and (2) have a mechanism for reviewing multiple sites initiated since last reaffirmation.

All SACSCOC member institutions are required to submit a FYIR as a part of reaffirmation of accreditation. The FYIR addresses 22 selected standards from the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation and includes an impact report for the institution’s most recent Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The FYIR is due approximately four years prior to an institution’s next reaffirmation of accreditation; Rollins will submit an FYIR in March 2021.

Components of the Report for Rollins

I. Signature(s) Page Attesting to Integrity

II. Institutional Summary Form

III. Fifth‐Year (Abbreviated) Compliance Certification

V. QEP Impact Report

There are two additional components that are not applicable to Rollins at this time.

  • IV. Fifth‐Year Follow Up Report (as requested by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees)
  • Review of off‐campus instructional sites initiated since last reaffirmation but not reviewed by a SACSCOC committee.

Standards Under Review
(Bold = Core Requirements; Italicized = “Most Frequently Cited Principles” List)


5.4 Qualified Administrative/Academic Officers


10.6 Distance/Correspondence Education


CR 6.1 Full‐Time Faculty


10.7 Policies for Awarding Credit


6.2.B. Program Faculty


10.9 Cooperative Academic Arrangements


6.2.C. Program Coordination


CR 12.1 Student Support Services


CR 8.1 Student Achievement


12.4 Student Complaints


8.2.A. Student Outcomes: Educational Programs


13.6 Federal and State Responsibilities


CR 9.1 Program Content


13.7 Physical Resources


CR 9.2 Program Length


13.8 Institutional Environment


10.2 Public Information


14.1 Publication of Accreditation Status


10.3 Archived Information


14.3 Comprehensive Institutional Reviews


10.5 Admissions Policies/Practices


14.4 Representation to Other Agencies



Academic Year 2017-2018 (August 2017-May 2018: PREPARATION YEAR

  • Fall: Establish structure(s) and schedules for the process
  • Spring: Demonstration of Learning Team (DLT) re-established
  • Spring/Summer: Determine criteria for and explore compliance reporting software options


Academic Year 2018-2019 (August 2018-May 2019): SYSTEMS AND TRAINING YEAR

  • Fall: Convene selection committee and determine compliance reporting software
  • Fall/Spring: Determine and purchase compliance reporting software
  • Spring: Software configuration, mapping, and staff training
  • Spring: Accreditation Leadership Team (ALT) re-established
  • Spring: ALT charged and approves work plan
  • Summer: Writing Teams established and seven report narrative assignments made per schedule
  • Summer: Writing team software trainings
  • Summer: ALT Training for late summer reading/reviews
  • Summer: ALT review of spring narratives and final editing of same


Academic Year 2019-2020 (August 2019- May 2020): WRITING AND EDITING (“SNAPSHOT” YEAR)

  • Fall: Summer narratives reviewed by ALT and comments returned to writers
  • Fall: Writing Teams established and 10 report narrative assignments made per schedule
  • Fall: Writing team trainings
  • Spring: Writing Teams established and five report narrative assignments made per schedule
  • Spring: ALT Training for summer reading/reviews (if needed)
  • Summer: ALT review of fall and spring narratives and final editing of same
  • Summer: Draft of QEP Impact Report completed


Academic Year 2020-2021 (August 2020-May 2021): FINALIZATION AND SUBMISSION

  • Fall: ALT comments returned to writers
  • Fall: Review QEP Impact Report and make revisions as needed
  • Fall: Finalize, modify, and edit all narratives and QEP impact report in accreditation software; test runs of complete report
  • Early Spring: Final review of Report by ALT, VPAA|Provost, Cabinet, and President
  • Early Spring: Final Revisions
  • Early Spring: Complete institutional summary and signature forms

  • March 15, 2021: Submit Fifth-Year Interim Report to SACSCOC
  • April-June: SACSCOC committee reviews (off-site)
  • June: SACSCOC Board reviews
  • July: SACSCOC notifies President Cornwell of outcome