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
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
"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,"
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.