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Released December 8, 2004

ACADEMIC SELF-STUDY RESULTS IN
ONE-YEAR PROBATION FOR SOUTHERN MISS

HATTIESBURG - Reporting deficiencies in a 10-year self-study conducted by The University of Southern Mississippi have resulted in a one-year probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Southern Miss has only received verbal notification from personnel at SACS and does not expect to receive formal written notification of the probation until January.

Southern Miss began the SACS self-study in 1995 and has been engaged in submitting updates and reports throughout the 10-year process. SACS areas of concern include deficiencies in the areas of assessment of institutional effectiveness, assessment of distance-learning effectiveness and strategic planning in academic units.

This probationary status does not affect academic programming at Southern Miss. "The areas of concern do not have anything to do with faculty teaching," said Shelby Thames, president of The University of Southern Mississippi. "This status does not in any way negatively affect our students and their education.

"Since the last SACS visit in 1995, the reporting and documentation efforts were not done as they should have been," said Thames. "We have to do a better job of letting SACS know what we are doing, and how we are doing it, in regard to assessing our processes and procedures.

"We've already begun working on the issues noted by SACS and expect to be removed from probationary status at the next scheduled annual meeting in December 2005. We take our SACS accreditation very seriously and we will remedy this situation."

Dr. Joan Exline, who was appointed by Thames to the position of assistant to the president for accreditation, planning and articulation in July 2004, has been working with the university's deans, graduate council, council of chairs and a new committee of faculty to address strategic planning and assessment issues. Three teams, including a leadership team, a compliance team and a quality enhancement plan team, have also been formed to work on accreditation. "We have already addressed the majority of the commission's concerns and we are working diligently on the remaining portion," said Exline.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body 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 for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process.

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January 19, 2005 3:36 PM