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Single Accreditation FAQs

Updated: 8/28/14

Background

Texas has led the nation in job creation for the last four years. Reflective of this growth, TSTC is experiencing increasing demand from industry, communities, and ISDs for more technical training capacity. This expansion will require new financial investments and thoughtful stewardship in a time of limited resources.

During the February 2014 TSTC Board of Regents meeting, Regents stressed the importance of being prepared to respond to industry’s growing need for skilled technicians and increasing demand from ISDs resulting from House Bill 5. The Chancellor commissioned Dr. Cesar Maldonado to lead a team in conducting a strategic assessment and determine recommendations for the Board to consider.

Introduction

This study determined that TSTC must make some operational changes to ensure sustainable growth and the ability to respond to rapidly changing education and workforce environments.

Though a final plan for the optimal configuration of TSTC is still being developed, a single accreditation is a prerequisite to all the options being considered. Thus, it is recommended that we begin the process of optimizing by moving to a single accreditation. Doing so will contain administrative overhead generated by duplicative accreditation processes and create an organizational environment of cooperation and collaboration. This page will continue to be updated with frequently asked questions and answers as they are known. If you have immediate questions not answered on this web page, email them to oneTSTC@tstc.edu.  

Chancellor's Update - June 3, 2014

A couple weeks ago after our last board meeting, I wrote you about the single accreditation the TSTC Board directed us to pursue (we’ve started to refer to the project as “SA”, for short). Soon thereafter the statewide leadership team met and selected Vice Chancellor Gail Lawrence to be our statewide executive-in-charge of the SA effort. Her role will be to oversee and guide the efforts across the colleges that will lead to the goal of single accreditation. She’ll be in constant contact with the presidents and the vice chancellors throughout he year ahead but will work with many other TSTC teammates, too.

To manage the day-to-day operations of the SA project, Gail has selected Kristi Guilbeaux to be project manager. Also, Dr. Ben Cox will serve as overall coordinator of the IE/IR portion of the effort. Accordingly, Ben will be working with the IE/IR leaders at each of the colleges.

Naturally, an effort like this can’t be done by a group this small. It will take coordination and contributions from across the state. So, it’s very possible you will hear from Gail, or members of the SA team to provide input and/or engage in the initiative.

Even if you are not asked to help, you will be informed of our progress when Gail sets up a communication plan designed to inform our whole team of the progress we’re making on SA.

Please contact your local president’s office, HR, or my office if you have any question or comments not answered on this page.

Vice Chancellor Gail Lawrence's Update - August 28, 2014

In June, Chancellor Reeser announced that TSTC would pursue Single Accreditation (SA). Since the initial announcement, there has been a flurry of activity related to the effort, and I would like to provide a brief update and general timeline.

In mid-July, Chancellor Reeser conducted general sessions, which were LiveStreamed across TSTC. For those of you who may have missed these presentations, a video has been produced and may be viewed by clicking the following link:  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pop3wHCcz5M&feature=youtu.be)

Two weeks later, a delegation from TSTC met with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) officials. During this meeting, Chancellor Reeser presented the rationale as to why TSTC is pursuing SA. SACSCOC is very familiar with consolidations, and given our statewide mission understood the logic behind the initiative. The SACSCOC team offered their support and guidance as we navigate the process.

An aggressive timeline has been established, which includes the following:

  • Curriculum alignment and a common catalog by Spring 2015.
  • Submission of our prospectus to SACSCOC in Spring 2015.
  • SACSCOC board of trustees will meet and determine approval of the prospectus in June 2015.
  • TSTC’s single identity must be implemented within 30 days of receiving SACSCOC Board approval of prospectus. Depending on the approval date, this could be prior to July 11, 2015.
  • Preparation for SACSCOC site visit Fall 2015.
  • SACSCOC on-site visit tentatively scheduled for January 2016.

As you know, with SA TSTC will become one college. Therefore, a SA project team has been established and plans are being finalized in preparation for the numerous structural and organizational changes required. The changes that have already occurred include the announcement of Dr. Stuckly’s new assignment as Vice Chancellor of Operations and Chief Operating Officer, providing statewide leadership of the Student Learning and Student Development Divisions. Dr. Stuckly’s new role precipitated other changes including Rob Wolaver, Mary Adams, Adam Hutchison, Dr. Irene Cravey, and Kristi Guilbeaux--all of which were highlighted in a recent statewide email.

Similarly, Chancellor Reeser most recently named Randy Wooten to be our East Texas regional executive as Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Execution Officer. Randy’s responsibilities will include oversight and expansion of TSTC’s operations in Fort Bend County while remaining President of TSTC Marshall. This change precipitated Bart Day becoming Provost for TSTC Marshall and being appointed the colleges’ executive academic officer.

Additionally, in order to prepare for fall 2015 student recruitment, the Marketing Division will proceed with its transitions as the first of our Divisions to undergo structural changes in support of SA. Specific communication pertaining to this roll out will occur in the coming weeks.

I will continue to provide updates to the TSTC Family as we progress through this transition. Your continued support is appreciated. If you have questions not answered here, please discuss those with your HR leaders.

Below are the FAQs answered on this page.

What is college accreditation?

Virtually all colleges and universities in America are reviewed by an external organization whose purpose is to examine and report the quality of the internal operations and standards used by the institution of higher education. This process is called accreditation. Accreditors publish operational quality standards that colleges must meet to maintain an accreditation. The US Department of Education requires that colleges be accredited to be eligible to offer financial aid to its students.

Are there different kinds of accreditation?

Colleges with more than one location can seek accreditation in one of two ways: for each of its components (multi-college accreditation) or as an overall institution (single college accreditation). Nearly all colleges in Texas use the latter approach.

Who accredits TSTC?

TSTC’s accreditation comes from the same organization that accredits all other Texas public colleges and universities, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—Commission on Colleges, commonly called “SACSCOC,” formerly referred to as “SACS.”

Are there other accrediting agencies?

Yes. TSTC uses SACSCOC because of its ubiquity in Texas. Others could be used, but TSTC has no plans to switch accreditors at this time.

What are the benefits of changing to a single accreditation?

As a single accredited organization, the overall management of TSTC’s state-wide dispersed operations will become more effective and efficient. Best practices will be easier to share among the campuses. In addition, administrative costs and duplication of effort will be reduced by consolidating our reporting to SACSCOC and government agencies.

What are the driving forces behind a single accreditation?

A single accreditation is TSTC’s response to meeting the skills gap and responding to HB5. By reducing accreditation redundancy, we will be able to focus on a more consistent student and workforce engagement experience.

For years, state leaders have spoken of the growing skills gap.

  • In 2008, then Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs addressed the “serious imbalance” that was “emerging between the demand for skilled workers and the state’s ability to supply them.”
  • Higher Education thought leaders like Anthony Carnevale have called for colleges to “streamline their programs, so they emphasize employability.”
  • Harvard University’s Director of Pathways to Prosperity spoke of our current system placing “far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college after completing an academic program of study in high school.”
  • As recent as April 2014, The Texas Association of Workforce Boards issued a whitepaper in which it stated, "It is becoming more common that businesses in key industries in Texas are unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill available, middle-skill jobs."

The legislature’s growing focus on technical workforce was evidenced in House Bill 5, of the 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature, which mandates the inclusion of career education in high schools

  • HB5 is designed to “to instill more flexibility in public education by enabling students to either pursue a traditional path into colleges and universities or move directly into the workforce to help fill what business leaders say is a critical skills shortage.”

HB5 fundamentally enables more Texans to get technically trained for great paying jobs and equips industry with the skilled workforce they need. TSTC will be a major player in that effort.

When will the single accreditation concept be presented to the TSTC Board of Regents?

A Minute Order was approved by the TSTC Board of Regents at the May 2014 Board meeting authorizing the college to pursue a single accreditation with SACSCOC.

How can I learn more about the ramifications of a single SACSCOC accreditation?

The college presidents and chancellor will be discussing this strategy in more detail following the Board meeting at various campus-wide Board Follow-up Meetings throughout the state.

Are we doing this to save money?

Moving to a single accreditation will save TSTC several hundred thousand dollars, but the main benefit is the efficiencies achieved by a more effective, coordinated and seamless experience for our students and the industries we serve.

In short, with a single accreditation, TSTC can focus more on education and less on administration. Finally, a single accreditation will help us achieve better returns on the state’s investment through unified planning, coordination, and resource distribution.

Are there any other examples of colleges operating under a single accreditation?

Yes. Single accreditations are common for multi-campus systems like TSTC. Of the state’s 50 community colleges, only Alamo Community College and Dallas Community College District operate with multiple accreditations. Kentucky, Minnesota, and Indiana also migrated to single accreditations for similar reasons.

Will this affect the reporting structure?

Yes. The accreditation change requires changes to TSTC’s management structure. Additional organization changes will follow as needed. 

What should we be doing now to prepare for this change?

We should continue optimizing our operations for student placement and industry relevant training.

How will this affect our programming?

This change is expected to strengthen our ability to collaborate across campuses leading to further success. We should keep focusing on innovation and making sure our programs are aligned with market demand. Any operational changes will evolve over time with a focus on emphasizing instruction and student success.

Who is leading the accreditation process?

The college presidents and the chancellor.

Who is the chief academic officer?

We will know in the coming months who will be in charge of coordinating the transition on the academic side, although an official chief academic officer can not be named until we are much farther along in the single accreditation process.

What is the urgency of beginning the change now?

The process of changing a college’s accreditation is a lengthy one that could take 18 months, and for TSTC, should ideally coincide with a legislative biennium, thus it is imperative that we begin this process now.

How does this change our focus?

Our focus does not change.  Our mission remains the same—place more Texans in high-paying jobs.

Will TSTC be reducing staff?

SA is not a staff reduction initiative.  Rather, SA is in support of TSTC’s growth and expansion strategy.  We anticipate that this will increase the TSTC workforce over time, with an increasing emphasis on education, not administration.

How does this affect the two colleges currently in the middle of reaffirmation?

The Harlingen and West Texas colleges should keep pressing forward with their normal reaffirmation process. It's quite possible at some point we could be told by SACSCOC to pause on this reaffirmation until we, as one TSTC, go through the process together. But, for now, we continue on our current path of reaffirmation.

Who is preparing the proposal to SACSCOC? 

TSTC senior administrators from each of the four campuses will meet with SACSCOC staff in Georgia to discuss the consolidation proposal in July 2014. A written Substantive Change Prospectus will then be collaboratively written by designated staff from each campus and divisional area and submitted by April 2015. 

Is the proposal being prepared as the same type of proposal as a ten year reaffirmation?

Yes. The Prospectus for Consolidation covers similar topics, but only includes about one-third of the standards found in the Compliance Certification for reaffirmation.

Will there be another On-site visit from SACSCOC within a year for the two colleges currently going through reaffirmation?

There will be a scheduled visit approximately six months after the SACSCOC approval of consolidation. At this point we should expect that all locations will be visited, but SACSCOC will evaluate the need as the current reaffirmation visits unfold.

Is there only going to be one Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)?

Yes, there will ultimately be one QEP for the college across all locations. However, all campuses should continue in their current QEP planning and implementation cycle until we receive further direction from SACSCOC on the transition plan for QEP initiatives.

If a program is approved at one TSTC campus, could it be offered at other locations without additional SACSCOC approval?

Yes. SACSCOC approval of programs will be done for the college as a whole, just as they are with the TSTC Board of Regents. However, the determination of where programs are offered will be made in consideration of industry needs and institutional resources.  Under a single administrative structure, TSTC will be better able to respond to the Texas workforce by a more efficient deployment of existing and new programs.

Will our curriculum have to change?  Will I be able to have a say in changes that are made if there are to be changes?

As directed by the Texas legislature, all AAS programs are being revised to 60 credit hours by Fall 2015, and there may be additional changes to improve the alignment of the programs TSTC offers at multiple locations.  Where appropriate, adjustments will be made to accommodate regional employers’ needs, and in all cases, faculty will be centrally involved in curriculum revisions.













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