SACSCOC approves JU reaffirmation, gives recommendation on assessment

KNOXVILLE — For most students and alumni, Johnson’s accreditation reaffirmation in December went by with little fanfare, or even acknowledgement. But for administrators, faculty  and staff, the reaffirmation was the culmination of year’s of work.

Johnson received its 10 year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Dec. 4, 2016.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, Tommy Smith said, “We invest a lot of time into this [two year process] because it’s worth it—Worth it for the students and University.”

Being accredited places the University in a class of high quality that reflects the best practices in education.

For the students, being accredited places a value on your degree that employers look at when considering you for employment. It is through accreditation that financial aid is offered to students and it also insures the transfer of credits to and from other institutions.

Associate Provost Cindy Lewis, said the University being accredited is like consumer protection for the students. Going through the accreditation process assures that graduates have learned what is promised and holds the University accountable to their claims of educational services.

“Our consumers are our students and our product is the education we offer,” she said.

Each reaffirmation report includes a Monitoring Report, recommending areas of improvement for the University.

Assessment is one of the huge areas Johnson realized was a repetitive issue in the reaffirmation reports that deserved more attention.

“It’s not that we are not good at assessment,” Lewis said. “But we struggle with creating an official process and then following it; which includes what we do with what we find during assessment.”

Lewis said assessment is something done in everyday life, it is when it comes to writing it down that it becomes difficult. It is a process of discovering why and how things are done and being able to communicate those on paper.

“Good assessment is sometimes when something doesn’t work,” Lewis said. “Maybe it didn’t work, but that’s good because now you know one more thing that doesn’t work and you learn. It is about changing your mindset and paradigm about what good assessment is.”

As a result of the reaffirmation process, Johnson is in the works of improving and being more intentional in assessment.

“We need to be more intentional about our assessment and follow through with it from beginning to end,” Lewis said. “And track it, and demonstrate it through the whole cycle.”

Emili Williams was named director of assessment in order to carry out the assessment needs.

The director of assessment assesses educational programs, student services, administrative services and other areas of the University.

Reaffirmation takes place every 10 years. The current accreditation will last through 2026 before another reaffirmation occurs.

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