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SUNO’s accreditation reaffirmed by SACSCOC

15th December 2011   ·   0 Comments

The Louisiana Weekly staff reports

Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) was officially informed last week that its accreditation was reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The announcement came during Tuesday’s closing ceremony at the SACSCOC annual meeting held in Orlando, Florida, confirming SUNO to be compliant with SACSCOC’s Principles of Accreditation.

“This finding demonstrates SUNO’s commitment to academic excellence and providing students with a high-quality education,” said Victor Ukpolo, Ph.D., SUNO’s chancellor. “SUNO and the entire Southern University System community are ecstatic about this accomplishment!”

This latest coup for the city’s only public HBCU comes just seven months after the institution’s future was placed in jeopardy by a concerted effort by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and two state legislators to merge SUNO with predominantly white University of New Orleans.

The two proposals aimed at merging the two New Orleans institutions of higher learning drew heavy criticism from HBCU?leaders across the nation and led to a consolidated effort by SUNO alumni, administrators, professors, students and supporters along with local and statewide elected officials and members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus to block the merger.

Eventually, the effort to merge the two schools fizzled out when its proponents conceded that they did not have the votes in the Louisiana Legislature to make it happen.

SUNO’s accreditation last week is all the more amazing given the challenges the school continues to face more than six years after Hurricane Katrina. Although a number of renovation and rebuilding projects are underway, much remains to be done on the Lakefront campus and trailers are still being used until the renovations are completed.

SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in Southern states and Latin America. Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review of an institution’s educational programs and its adherence to accepted academic standards. It determines an institution’s eligibility for participation in federal and other financial aid programs as well as the acceptance and transfer of college credits. Additionally, graduation from an accredited institution qualifies students for admission to graduate and professional schools.

“Satisfying all requirements for reaffirmation during a grueling three-year process, which includes the preparation of numerous reports covering every aspect of our operation and an on-site review by a team of reviewers appointed by SACSCOC, represents a testament to the perseverance and teamwork of our students, faculty, staff and administrators, many of whom are new to SUNO as of the past six years,” Ukpolo added.

In addition to the compliance certification report, which demonstrated how SUNO met the core requirements, comprehensive standards, and federal requirements of SACSCOC, the University was also required to submit a Quality Enhancement Plan. The plan outlines a long-term course of action for institutional improvement with special attention to student learning. SUNO’s plan calls for an improvement in the technology available for online teaching and ensuring that students and faculty are competent in the use of technology applicable to online classes.

SUNO’s rebuilding efforts were aided earlier this fall by an announcement that the university would receive an additional $20 earmarked for renovation projects.

During the Spring 2011 semester, the second semester that SUNO has operated under the new selective admissions requirements mandated by the Louisiana Board of Regents, SUNO’s enrollment reached 3,318, a figure that represents 91 percent of its pre-Katrina enrollment and a six percent increase since the Spring 2010. When SUNO re-opened for the Spring 2006 semester, its enrollment was 2,037.

“As I recall assessing the devastation of our campus caused by Hurricane Katrina six years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that our institution would attain reaffirmation meeting all standards in light of the devastation, even though I knew that we were up to the challenge,” Ukpolo said. “Our stakeholders are overwhelmed with joy in celebrating this moment in SUNO’s history.”

This article originally published in the December 12, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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