Tech fares well in SACS review
By David Conn, self-study director
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 25 - March 26, 1998
The outside committee charged with reviewing Virginia Tech as part of the process leading to continued accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was quite complimentary in its exit report to President Paul Torgersen and other members of the university community.
The compliance team made about a dozen recommendations, which is a relatively small number for an institution of Virginia Tech's size and complexity. Furthermore, committee chair John Prados of the University of Tennessee pointed out that these recommendations are all procedural or technical in nature, and reflect no substantial flaws in the institution. Indeed, most of the underlying problems had already been identified and addressed on Virginia Tech's own initiative during the self study that preceded the committee's visit.
In a step that Prados described as "unusual," the compliance team ended its report by issuing a commendation for the university's financial planning and management. About half of the exit session was devoted to a presentation by the consulting team, based on a review of the strategic document entitled "Transforming Virginia Tech for the Information Age." This team had been asked to consider questions such as "how are we doing?" (relative to other comparable institutions) and "are we going in the right direction?" In general, the team gave high marks to strategic initiatives at Virginia Tech that it considered truly transforming, such as the Faculty Development Institute. As a result of such initiatives--as well as the willingness of colleges and other units to reallocate funding--large-scale projects such as the Math Emporium and Cyberschool have emerged as leaders in efforts to apply information technology in pursuit of learner-centered educational change. A written copy of the Reaffirmation Committee's draft report will be provided within the next few weeks.