Quality Enhancement Plan
Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)
Shaping Resilient Stingrays
In a bold step toward fostering academic excellence and student success, South University is set to launch the five-year Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) in March 2024. Aptly titled "Shaping Resilient Stingrays," this comprehensive initiative reflects our unwavering commitment to providing an environment conducive to robust student learning.
The core essence of “Shaping Resilient Stingrays” is rooted in our dedication to nurturing academic flourishing despite the inevitable challenges that students may face. The overarching objective is to empower students to overcome adversities and achieve outstanding academic outcomes through the cultivation of resilience. This is achieved by promoting essential elements such as self-care, purpose, mindfulness, positive relationships, and self-awareness.
Noteworthy is the collaborative effort invested in the creation of the QEP. Over the years, students, faculty, staff, and administrators have contributed valuable input and support, shaping a program that reflects the collective commitment to student success.
The implementation of “Shaping Resilient Stingrays” will be a multifaceted approach, incorporating both online and on-campus marketing initiatives. Resiliency concepts will be seamlessly integrated into UVC1000 and HUM1200 first-year courses and beyond, providing students with practical tools to navigate challenges effectively. Workshops focused on building resilience, and expert guest speakers sharing best practices, will be other highlights of the program.
As part of the engaging and dynamic approach, the initiative will include fun contests aimed at enhancing resilience, alongside an array of resiliency-themed merchandise.
Through these initiatives, we aim not only to meet accreditation standards through SACSCOC, but to create a thriving academic community where resilience becomes an integral part of the student experience.
With the launch of “Shaping Resilient Stingrays,” our institution takes a monumental step towards shaping resilient, successful individuals who are well-prepared to thrive academically and beyond. This initiative underscores our commitment to providing a transformative educational experience that prepares students for the challenges of the future.
Stay tuned for updates as we embark on this exciting journey together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. This is the accreditation body for South University.
To gain or maintain accreditation with SACSCOC, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation and with the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges. The SACSCOC accreditation process helps institutions of higher learning set and maintain high academic standards, foster public confidence in the institution’s academic value, and establish eligibility for certain grants and federal aid programs.
Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation is a quality assurance program to inform students, the public, and other stakeholders that South University has met thresholds of performance on established criteria. Accreditation is affirmed through periodic review by peer evaluator teams and is important to affirm academic excellence and high standards of an institution to the public.
What is reaffirmation of accreditation?
Every ten years, colleges and universities accredited by SACSCOC must demonstrate that they comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation and with the policies and procedures. This process is called reaffirmation of accreditation.
What is a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires each university to have a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) that was selected after a close examination of data about the institution and the student experience.
Developing a QEP as part of South University’s reaffirmation process is an opportunity for our institution to enhance our overall institutional quality by proposing a project that we believe will improve student learning and/or the learning environment and accomplish the mission of South University.
What are the criteria SACSCOC has provided that guides our QEP process?
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges expect that in developing South University’s QEP, we are engaging the entire University community and addressing one or more issues that contribute to institutional improvement focused on student learning outcomes and/or student success.
There is an expectation that the plan is focused, concise, and limited in scope in order to allow the institution to implement, assess and complete an Impact Report on the project within 5 years. SACSCOC expects the University to create a project that will enhance learning for a meaningful number of students and to explain why the size of our chosen QEP population is “meaningful” or significant, given the context of our institution and our topic
How was the topic selected?
The topic of the QEP is determined through a multi-step process that involves a broad cross-section of the University’s faculty, staff, and students. The process began in the Fall of 2022 with the establishment of the QEP Discovery Team, and is being refined through a rigorous democratic process designed to ensure that the community within South University is supportive of the plan. The timeline for this process can be found below:
How will we know if the QEP is successful?
South University plans to use both indirect and direct measures, both qualitative and quantitative data, to assess the learning outcomes and benchmarks related to the overall plan and its goals where student learning and/or the learning environment improvement are concerned. Our approach will include scheduled formative assessment, allowing us to adjust implementation activities, timelines and assessment instruments, as necessary. In doing so, the University will employ a QEP Assessment Committee whose responsibility will be to regularly collect and evaluate information to determine the effectiveness of the final plan.
How will our institution pay for the cost of implementing this QEP?SACSCOC expects that South University will designate appropriate financial, physical, and human resources to implement, maintain, and evaluate the chosen QEP topic. South University will create a specific QEP budget that comes from a realistic assessment of what is possible and necessary. An itemized budget for our new QEP will be created as part of the full proposal to SACSCOC and a University QEP Budget Committee will be seated to manage the budgetary process.
QEP Discovery Team
Exploration of possible QEP topics
QEP topic survey sent to students, faculty and staff
QEP topic finalized and reviewed for assessment
QEP submitted and approved by University Executive Leadership Team
Sub-Committee work launched
Assessment committee launched
Summer – Fall 2023
Development of QEP
Implementation plans established
Winter 2024Pilot QEP rollout
Leadership & Committees
In the Fall of 2022, South University initiated the development of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for SACSCOC Decennial Reaffirmation. This comprehensive effort involved the meticulous identification of essential committees responsible for tasks such as topic identification, development and implementation, communications and public relations, and securing literature support. In order to ensure seamless continuity and collaboration across these committees, representatives from the Discovery Team have been strategically appointed to serve on each, fostering cohesion and knowledge transfer as their memberships overlap across the various groups.
In the autumn of 2022, South University launched its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) by forming pivotal committees responsible for the identification, development, and implementation of key initiatives and form a main QEP topic. Throughout the fall of 2023, the QEP Topic Discovery Team invested substantial efforts in identifying topics that not only bolstered student success but also resonated with the overarching mission, vision, and goals of the University. This dedicated committee played a crucial role, maintaining its involvement in the project from the fall of 2022 through the SACSCOC visit in March 2024. This team will become the new QEP Executive Steering Committee after achieving SACSCOC Compliance status. Dr. Mandy Smith, the new QEP Director hired in December 2023, heads the QEP Executive Steering Committee as of January 2024. Noteworthy members of the QEP Topic Discovery Team include:
Literature Review Committee
Upon finalizing the QEP topic, the Literature Review Committee initiated extensive research into related articles and assessment measures. These articles serve as the foundational knowledge base for the entire project, with a particular emphasis on their utilization by the Assessment and Development teams within the QEP. The Literature Review Committee played a crucial role in synthesizing and providing essential insights from relevant literature to inform the project effectively. Key members of the Literature Review Committee include:
The Assessment Committee operates in close collaboration with the Literature Review Committee and the Development & Implementation Committee to devise effective measures for evaluating the impact of the QEP. This collaborative effort encompasses not only the establishment of assessment methods but also the formulation of strategies to gather essential data leading up to the 5-year report. The Assessment Committee is comprised of dedicated individuals with the expertise to ensure a robust and comprehensive evaluation process. Key members of the Assessment Committee include:
Development and Implementation Committee
The Development and Implementation Plan Committee held the responsibility of formulating a comprehensive plan for the QEP, which included establishing a timeline and outlining all necessary steps for its execution. This committee works closely with the Assessment Committee to ensure a coordinated approach. Specifically, the Development and Implementation Plan Committee was tasked with crafting the implementation plan, including methods for measurement and reporting on the results of the QEP, culminating in the preparation of the 5-year report. Key members of the Development and Implementation Committee include:
Public Relations/Communications Committee
The Public Relations and Communications Committee assumes the crucial responsibility of managing all communications directed at university constituents. Additionally, this committee plays a vital role in disseminating the QEP topic throughout the campus communities using diverse, educational, and engaging methods. Collaborating closely with the campus leaders, the Communications Committee ensures the effective distribution of information as the QEP plan unfolds. The members of the Public Relations and Communications Committee are dedicated to fostering clear, informative, and engaging communication channels. Key members of the Public Relations and Communications Committee include:
Topic Selection Considerations
The Discovery Team, composed of representatives of faculty, staff and administrators, identified three potential topics for the South University QEP. These topics were based on principles that contribute to student success and the University mission. After the topics were presented to University leadership, they were provided to all faculty, staff, students and alumni for ranking. The presented topics were:
- SAIL: Navigating the Student Academic Journey
- A Self-Directed Approach to Student Success
- Building a Culture of Wellness through Awareness & Advocacy
The Discovery Team reviewed the ranked choices and the survey comments, resulting with the final topic “Shaping Resilient Stingrays.” The survey rankings were very close and, therefore, provided an opportunity to integrate elements of each into the final QEP.