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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Self study: One visit, three teams

By Marcia Harrington,

institutional effectiveness manager

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 22 - February 26, 1998

As spring break comes to a close, three external teams will be coming to place Virginia Tech under a microscope. Two of the teams will be examining whether the university's regional accreditation should be reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
One of these, an 11-member compliance team, will perform an audit of our responses to about 500 "must statements" or accreditation criteria as documented in a report titled Affirming Institutional Progress.
The second, a four-member consulting team, will offer us suggestions and guidance in relation to our strategic self-study report titled "Transforming Virginia Tech for the Information Age."
The third team, consisting of five members (the chair of which also serves on the SACS compliance team), will concurrently conduct a separate review as part of the certification process required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). During the visit, all three teams will be housed at the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center. There they will have the use of workrooms containing documentation that has been gathered from offices throughout the entire university, as well as of computers and conference/interview rooms.
During their stay, the team members will have open access to our campus. They can and will ask questions of many members of the university community. The findings of both the SACS compliance team and the NCAA review team will be binding; this means that we will be required to respond and/or initiate some action as a result of what they report.
The findings of the SACS consulting team, which will be advisory, will be used to help us strategize "where to from here." All three teams will report their findings orally on Wednesday, March 18--the NCAA team at 9 a.m. and the SACS teams at 1 p.m. More details will be provided in Spectrum on March 5.

Are YOU Prepared?

By David Conn, self-study director

No matter which category you are in--faculty, student, staff, or alumni--you may be sought out for questioning by one or more members of the visiting teams during their mid-March visit. In case this happens, you may wish to review in advance the university's self-study report. This consists of a compliance component entitled Affirming Institutional Progress and a strategic component titled "Transforming Virginia Tech for the Information Age." Both are accessible on line at www.vt.edu:10021/admin/provost/selfstudy. Hard copies have been provided to department heads and are available on reserve at the Newman and Northern Virginia Center libraries. If you are curious about the process and the kinds of questions that might be asked, please attend the open forum from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, in 1045 Pamplin. Departmental head secretaries and other staff members, who may be expected to play a key role in giving access to documentation and arranging interviews, are encouraged to attend a special session on the previous day (Tuesday March 3; same time and location). If you are approached for questioning, we would encourage you to be as friendly and cooperative as possible. Team members, many of whom are our peers from other universities, are donating their time to participate in this event, and we would like their visit to be a positive experience. For more information contact selfstudy@vt.edu.