By Stephanie Sexton, Staff Writer
Last week, students may have noticed a different buzz around the campus. There were people in nice suits walking around, teachers were dressed better than usual and there was a bit of a nervousness amongst the faculty and staff. That is because the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, was here for a few days to assess the college. The overall goal for the college was to become reaffirmed. What does that mean? What is reaffirmation, and how it is it obtained?
“Every school that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and schools, that’s what we call SACS, has to undergo a self-audit every 10 years,” said Rosemary Royston, vice president for planning and assessment.
Basically it is like a check-up on the college. SACS looks at the college and makes sure that the faculty and staff are doing everything they can to improve the learning process on campus.
The institution being evaluated shows SACS what they have been doing to help students learn the material needed to graduate.
“We say, here’s what students are expected to learn, and how are we going behind them and really looking at all of our programs, and saying okay here are the outcomes, here’s what they have learned, and here’s where we need to do something’s differently,” Royston said.
There are many ways and tools to help the students learn the materials needed. One tool particularly that Young Harris College chose to use is Rhetorica, or the QEP.
“The reason we chose to do the QEP is they want us to identify an area where we know students need extra support, and we identified writing and speaking,” Royston said.
SACS is going to come in, look at Rhetorica and hopefully give their blessing for Young Harris to launch the program in Fall 2011.
There are 11 of the SACS representatives that are from other colleges that are similar to Young Harris College. They come in and interview the faculty, staff and even students for three days straight. There was a luncheon with some students, interviewing them about the college.
“There are eight students that we have selected, so they can ask them about their experience here, they’ll talk about Rhetorica, and they’ll want to know about student rights and responsibilities,” Royston said. One of those students was Matthew Kammerer, business and public policy senior from Loganville .
“We asked questions and questions were asked of us. We started with a general discussion over food with the four SACS representatives who range from Academic Deans to Vice Presidents of Student Affairs.
We discussed items ranging from how our campus has changed since moving four-year to how students were involved in choosing the QEP,” Kammerer said when asked about the meeting with SACS.
While the college will not find out if it passed the assessment until June 2011, YHC President Cathy Cox did send out an e-mail with positive feedback from the representatives.
“Our SACS on-site committee has completed its work and found us fully in compliance on all the ‘Core Requirements’ of SACS,” Cox said. “This is a huge accomplishment and vividly demonstrates the good work we are doing to grow our College according to the best academic and professional guidelines.”
According to Cox’s e-mail, “several committee members said that Rhetorica was the best QEP they had ever read.”
However, despite all of the good news, SACS did find a few imperfections in its evaluation of the school but none that appeared great enough to hinder the reaffirmation process.
“The Committee did issue four findings related to the slightly lesser ‘comprehensive standards,’” Cox said. “Three of which relate to the nuances of assessment and how we measure student achievement, our administrative services to students, and our overall educational programs.”
Cox attributes these finding due to the recent transition from a two-year to a four-year college. With a newly instated senior class, many information would not be obtainable. The final finding SACS mentioned dealt with campus safety and security. The committee could not articulate any specific issue with safety but did suggest more safety coordination.
More information from SACS evaluation will available in the coming months after the written report has been sent to the college.
By Kathleen Layton, Editor-in-Chief
with information from wire reports
Since Tuesday the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has been on campus at Young Harris College to determine whether or not the college has met the expected requirements for their 10-year reaffirmation.
After an intense week of interviews and observation, the SACS on-site committee has completed its work and found Young Harris College fully in compliance on all the “Core Requirements” of SACS.
While YHC was found to be in compliance with the SACS standards, the Committee did issue four findings related to the slightly lesser “comprehensive standards,” three of which relate to the nuances of assessment and how YHC measures student achievement, the college’s administrative services to students and YHC’s overall educational programs. Some of these were difficult, if not impossible, for YHC to meet at this time because we are only now reaching the point of graduating a first senior class. As YHC continues to move forward as a four-year school, these needs will be addressed. The fourth finding was a bit odd, relating to YHC’s overall campus safety and security. The Committee chair could not exactly enunciate what their issue was – he said they found nothing inherently unsafe or risky, but felt that YHC needed more coordination of safety efforts.
According to an email from the YHC President Cathy Cox, “the Committee loved the QEP (Quality Enhancement Program), Rhetorica.They found it fully in compliance with the SACS requirements and numerous members of the committee commented that it was the best QEP they’d ever read.”
YHC did not get a written report on these findings today. That will come within the next month or so, and then the college will have a better understanding of where the committee felt YHC could make improvements.
With the evaluation complete, YHC expects their 10-year reaffirmation to be formally issued next June.
By Ali Neese, Staff Writer
As anyone who passes by Young Harris College knows, the school is experiencing some major change. It began with the building of Enotah Hall, continued with the new Recreation Center, and, according to the master plan, is far from being over.
One of the most recent changes to campus is the relocation of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center, or C.A.P.S., from the building in between Pruitt-Barrett Building and the Campus Gate Art Gallery to an office in the bottom of Appleby Center.
But, many students wonder, what’s been left in its place? The answer is the new Center for Writing and Speaking, a part of the Rhetorica program at YHC.
What brought about this change? Why did C.A.P.S. need to be moved and why is the Center for Writing and Speaking there now?
According to Dr. Jennifer Hallett, director of the speaking center and the Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, is “a big deal in terms of our accreditation and SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, wants to see that we, as a college are committed to this QEP.”
The college is able to demonstrate their commitment to following through on the QEP by designating a certain space for important things, such as the writing and speaking program at Young Harris, formally known as Rhetorica.
Hallett went on to say that the speaking and writing centers were both located in the same building because they are both equal parts of the QEP.
Hallett stated that the transition from C.A.P.S. to the Center for Writing and Speaking occurred at the beginning of the semester and that they officially opened their doors to students on Monday, August 23.
Throughout campus, students are being told by their professors to visit this new center, but many are also wondering what they can do there and how it will benefit them.
In regards to the speaking side of the center, “it is a place for dedicated guidance to help students succeed in a speaking assignment,” Hallett said.
Assignments can include group discussion, debates, leading a discussion among peers, actual speeches for a public speaking class, etc. There tutors are able to guide a student in his or her speech and tell them what they need to work on in order to improve.
While Dr. Hallet talked about the center’s speaking assistance, the center also does work with student’s writing abilities.
Louisa Franklin, director of the writing center, says that “the writing center is there to help students write papers in any academic discipline” and that any type of paper is welcome there.
However, students need to bring their assignment and a draft of the paper with them to the center.
Franklin stressed that tutors cannot write papers for anyone, but they are more than happy to help make a paper better.
Senior English major and writing center tutor Jill Tuttle from McCaysville believes that she has a very rewarding job.
“It’s really cool when people come in and they have problems and you help them and you can see that they’re learning,” Tuttle said. “It’s also really great when they come back to you and say you really helped me do well on my paper.”
Speaking center tutor and senior English major Leon Payne from Dayton, TN also finds his job rewarding. He said that “I love to help people and being able to give them confidence. It’s not so much that I’m a speech whiz, I just like giving them confidence and helping them do what they need to do.”
The Speaking Center is open Monday-Thursday from 11am-5pm and Sunday from 1-5.
The Writing Center is open Monday-Thursday from 3-5 and 6-10 and Sunday from 6-10.
Both are closed Fridays and Saturdays.