We have celebrated many milestones and accomplishments over the past year, including the many achievements of our community in ensuring and promoting student success. As we prepare to conclude our 250th anniversary year, I am very proud to announce that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), our regional accreditor, has reaffirmed Salem College’s accreditation for another 10 years.
Preparation for this review began in 2021, beginning with a committee led by then SACSCOC Liaison, Richard Vinson, Ph.D. focusing on the SACSCOC Standards. In July 2021, Elizabeth Novicki took over the role as SACSCOC liaison and continued the work of preparing our compliance certification and for our site visit in February 2022. In addition, Diane Lipsett, Ph.D. and Katharine Blackwell, Ph.D. led a team of faculty and staff over the last two years to develop Salem College’s Quality Enhancement Project (QEP), Engaging Ethics.
The completion of our compliance certification, QEP, and the site visit — all of which received high praise from the site visit team— were completed during a dynamic period of transition, including resuming campus operations, pandemic accommodations continuing and the arrival of a new presidential administration, which makes the accomplishment even more notable. This reaffirmation effort involved students, staff, faculty, administration, alumnae and Board members to all whom we express our deepest gratitude.
The site visit team, chaired by Blue Mountain College president Barbara McMillan, Ed.D. was highly complementary of the progress the College has made since coming out of financial probation and the work to transform the institution during the pandemic. Among the highlights of their report are our efforts in developing new programs for health leadership, the strength of the academic core and the comprehensive and collaborative nature by which the campus developed the QEP. Especially evident to the team was the commitment of the faculty and staff to Salem, whose contributions to the process as well as to the success of Salem deserve the utmost respect and appreciation.
Salem College will be asked to monitor one non-core requirement over the next year. This monitoring report due in 2023 will address issues of administrative officer evaluation and assessment in response to Standard 5.4. This standard focuses on ensuring that a process of evaluating academic administrators and officers is in place and is routinely performed. Due to the pandemic year in 2020 and two presidential transitions over three years, there were gaps in the review of administration in those prior years. During the reaffirmation process, this Standard was identified as an area for improvement and the administration worked with Human Resources to implement an electronic review system. This system was used for the 2021-2022 annual reviews of academic administrators and officers and results were shared with SACSCOC this year. They have asked for an additional year of monitoring that process to satisfy that criterion. Our next major review report is the Fifth Year Interim Report, including the QEP Impact Report, which is due in 2027.
This reaffirmation process is a vital and important one in the life of any academic institution as a crucial opportunity to review and evaluate their work, note their accomplishments and successes, reflect on areas for improvement and set their goals for the future. Salem’s reaffirmation effort has been a success and worthwhile endeavor in each of these ways. Even in the face of many challenges ahead for women’s and liberal arts colleges today and in the coming years, we are reminded of all the meaningful and high-quality work that has been done by our faculty and staff for many years which serves as the foundation for our future potential. The feedback we received and the learning we accomplished during this process is a reason for pride and optimism.
Again, thank you to all those many members of our community who have made this milestone possible with very special thanks to Elizabeth Novicki and all those team members who contributed to this process.
Summer Johnson McGee, Ph.D., CPH
President, Salem Academy and College