At its meeting today, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools awarded initial candidacy to Southern Virginia University. SACS is the oldest, largest and most prestigious educational accreditor for the southern United States.
The Commission on Colleges’ board made its decision based on the findings of a fact-finding committee that it authorized in June 2009, which visited Southern Virginia this February and found the university in full compliance with every standard for candidacy.
“Candidacy for regional accreditation is an important hurdle for us to have cleared, and it is one in a series of significant accomplishments we have made in our 15 years of serving the LDS community,” said Southern Virginia President Rodney K. Smith. “We are working hard to do all we can to merit full membership with SACS and add it to the academically rigorous national accreditation we have from the American Academy for Liberal Education. All of this is further evidence of the continuing development of the university and it reflects ever so well on the work of so many individuals.”
“Regional accreditation candidacy provides us with an opportunity to further strengthen what we offer our students,” said Paul S. Edwards, executive vice president and provost at Southern Virginia, who oversaw the university’s application. “In the near future we hope to add an education licensure program, pursue membership in an NCAA athletic conference, explore membership in additional national honor societies, and see our students admitted to even more graduate schools.”
Candidacy also opens additional doors for students who begin their university education at Southern Virginia but who find themselves in a position of needing to finish elsewhere.
“One of our students who wants to be an engineer began his education here but wanted to finish at a school that had an engineering program,” Provost Edwards said. “When it came time to transfer his credits, the large state school to which he applied initially balked at our lesser known national accreditation. We worked with their people and all of his credits transferred, but the better known regional accreditation candidacy should eliminate this concern for students in similar situations in the future.”
Southern Virginia University is nationally accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education and is certified to operate and grant baccalaureate degrees by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
The AALE, which derives its authority from the U.S. Department of Education, accredits institutions that offer quality general education programs in the liberal arts that meet stringent educational, administrative and financial criteria.
Southern Virginia was pre-accredited by the AALE in 2000 and received full accreditation in 2003. In July 2008, the university’s accreditation was renewed for the usual period of five years.
“It takes great effort to document Southern Virginia’s compliance with the rigorous standards required by accrediting bodies,” President Smith said. “It is gratifying to know that we meet their requirements both academically and financially, but we all take even greater satisfaction in what the university accomplishes in the lives of our students. They are becoming critical thinkers, problem solvers, and thoughtful writers. Southern Virginia alumni are fulfilling our mission to be leader-servants, men and women of great intellectual and spiritual capacity who are making a difference in the world—and that is why we exist.”