TCU to be tested for accreditation renewal


    Nine accreditation evaluators will visit TCU March 26-28 to ensure the university meets the minimum education and administration requirements. 

    "That is what it is all about, that students are getting what they think they are getting," Catherine Wehlburg, assistant provost of institutional effectiveness, said. 

    Every 10 years, the university must renew its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation. This accreditation keeps the university eligible for federal funds, including the Pell Grant and allowing smoother transfer experiences, Wehlburg said.

    Universities must meet 98 standards covering the board of trustees, academics, faculty, student services and a plan for quality enhancement in an area of the universities' choice to remain accredited, according to the SACS website.

    An off-site team has already evaluated documents the university submitted and determined 18 standards the on-site team should clarify, Wehlburg said.

    The committee asked the university to better define a credit hour for online classes. Currently, online courses are assigned the same credit weight as classroom courses, but online courses operate differently and need a more accurate measure of learning, Edward McNertney, director of TCU core curriculum and member of the university's SACS leadership team, said.

    "We contacted the [TCU] programs that rely on online classes to see what they do," he said.

    Online credit hours are something all universities have to look at, McNertney said.

    The university also had to write a formal policy outlining the number of graduate level credits a student could transfer in. Other standards in question required the university to submit additional documentation from previous years, Wehlburg said.

    The on-site committee will examine Purple Passport, the quality enhancement plan program the university is developing. 

    "We know the students today are going to be interacting globally, whether from their office in Fort Worth or with a company abroad," Jane Kucko, director for the Center for International Studies, said.

    Purple Passport will have funding for students and faculty to develop new international activities on campus and to facilitate international projects more easily, Kucko said. In 2016, students will be able to graduate with a global citizenship credential, she said. 

    The on-site committee will talk to students, faculty and staff and ask about anything they want, Wehlburg said. After the committee leaves, the university will continue to provide information and receive suggestions until the standards are satisfactorily met.