SACSCOC stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is the accrediting body for educational institutions within Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America. The Commission on Colleges is the division of SACSCOC that oversees accreditation of higher education within the region. (For more information, visit

Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of the Commission on Colleges, offers an alternate meaning for the SACS acronym that conveys the essence of higher education: Students Are Central to Success.

Accreditation by the SACSCOC means that a university has:

  1. A mission appropriate to higher education.
  2. The resources, programs and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission.
  3. Clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers.
  4. Success in achieving its stated objectives.

According to the Commission on Colleges, "the culmination of the accreditation process is a public statement of an institution’s continuing capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon requirements. The statement of an institution’s accreditation status with SACSCOC also represents an affirmation of an institution’s continuing commitment to the Commission’s principles and philosophy of accreditation." (See the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement).

Being accredited and in good standing with SACSCOC assures our constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of B-CU and its programs. It also allows B-CU students to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid and ensures transfer of credits between B-CU and other institutions.

Every ten years, colleges and university accredited by SACSCOC must demonstrate that they comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the Commission on Colleges. This process is called reaffirmation of accreditation. It is a two-year process of rigorous self-evaluation that culminates in two stages of peer review conducted by senior level faculty and administrators at other institutions accredited by SACSCOC.

B-CU is beginning the current reaffirmation process leading up to submission of our Compliance Certification Report in September 2021 and our Quality Enhancement Plan in early 2022. A team of peer evaluators will visit our campus in spring 2022 and the Commission votes on whether to reaffirm B-CU’s accreditation in December 2022.

Anything less than full reaffirmation potentially means:

  • loss of federal funding
  • loss of prestige and reputation
  • loss of admissions applicants
  • loss of ability of B-CU graduates to secure jobs

If the peer evaluators working on behalf of the Commission on Colleges find that B-CU is deficient in some area, they can offer recommendations with penalties that range from requiring Monitoring Reports to public sanction, denial of reaffirmation and even removal of membership. While B-CU does not anticipate major problems with reaffirmation, it is important for everyone to understand how serious the consequences are - and just how important the process is.

Shortly after B-CU’s last reaffirmation in 2010, the Commission on Colleges revised the first edition of the Principles of Accreditation twice (2012 and 2017). This time we operate according to the "new" 2018 SACSCOC Principles reformatted for documenting compliance. The main differences are:

  • B-CU will still submit two major documents: 1) Compliance Certification Report (September 2021); and 2) Quality Enhancement Plan (spring 2022) which will require the University, through its own internal review process, to determine its compliance with fourteen Sections of the Principles.
  • The "old" SACSCOC emphasized inputs and outputs. The "new" SACSCOC focuses on goals and outcomes with continuous, systematic improvement as the cornerstone.
  • Instead of a print report responding to over 95 standards contained in the 2012 edition of the Principles of Accreditation, we must complete a Compliance Certification Report that demonstrates our compliance with approximately 90 standards. This report combines a clear and concise narrative with analysis of reliable, relevant and representative supporting evidence to make the case that B-CU complies with the more general Principlesto fulfill our mission.
  • The QEPis required to focus on an issue the University considers important to improving student learning and student success outcomes. The QEP must evolve from specific components or subcomponents of the comprehensive planning and evaluation processes.
  • An off-site team of peer evaluators will review the Compliance Certification Report and issue its findings before the on-site visit in 2022. We will have approximately six weeks to respond to any off-site findings in a Focused Report.
  • A different group of peer evaluators will conduct the on-site visit in spring 2022. They will review any areas of concern raised by the off-site team. However, their chief purpose is to talk with B-CU faculty, staff and students about the QEP.

Accreditation is a process founded on peer review. The off-site and on-site peer evaluators come from member institutions that are accredited by SACSCOC. The trustees of the Commission on Colleges, elected by the member institution presidents, have the final vote on our reaffirmation of accreditation.

There are three review and response phases in the reaffirmation process.

  1. An Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee composed of 8 or more peer evaluators will review our Compliance Certification Report in November 2021. When we receive their response report, we will have approximately six weeks to prepare a Focused Report that addresses any areas of concern raised by the off-site reviewers.
  2. An On-Site Reaffirmation Committee composed of 7 or more peer evaluators plus a QEP lead evaluator nominated by B-CU will review our QEP and Focused Report. After the on campus visit in spring 2022, the on-site committee will issue a final report that will include any recommendations and a date for submitting a Visiting Committee Response Report.
  3. One of the standing Committees on Compliance & Reports (C&R), composed of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, will review our final report of the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee and the University’s response and will forward it to the Executive Council for review and recommendation to the full Board of Trustees, who convenes twice a year and makes the final decision on reaffirmation along with any monitoring activities that it may require of the institution. The final vote on B-CU’s reaffirmation of accreditation will be in December 2022.
In fall 2020, we will conclude a compliance audit, which involves reviewing institutional policy documents and gathering and analyzing data related to each of the standards in the 2018 Principles of Accreditation. The Compliance Certification Committee and the Leadership Team will address any issues that need attention. During spring 2021, we will write the Compliance Certification Report, select a QEP topic/concept and develop the QEP. In September 2021, we will submit the final Compliance Certification Report, continue to prepare the final QEP, and prepare a Focused Report if needed. In spring 2022, we will have an on-site visit of peer evaluators. A more detailed timeline is available on this site, and there will be updates as we progress.

Bethune-Cookman University is responsible for arranging all transportation, meals and housing for the on-site campus visit. This includes technology support, working space in the hotel and on campus, and detailed schedules for each peer evaluator.

An on-site visit Hospitality Team will manage all of these logistical arrangements.

  • Day One usually focuses on compliance issues noted by the off-site review, the Focused Report, and all federal requirements. It usually consists of interviews as requested by the chair of the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee and assembling additional documentation when requested.
  • Day Two focuses on the QEP. It usually includes a presentation to the Committee about the QEP and group interviews with a variety of constituencies.
  • Day Three focuses on the Exit Conference, where the Committee presents its finding to the Leadership Team.
The new Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement went into effect in January 2018 with several revisions to the 2012 edition. The Commission on Colleges expects integrity to govern B-CU's operation and for the University to make reasonable and responsible decisions consistent with the spirit of integrity in all matters. There are 14 broad-based Sectors with a large number of more specific required standards. We are expected to comply with all, approximately 90, standards in the Principles.

The Compliance Certification Report includes an institutional summary to introduce the peer evaluators to Bethune-Cookman University and narratives for each of the standards in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement 2018 edition.

Each section will include:

  1. The wording of the standard.
  2. Our determination of the level of compliance (compliance, partial compliance, non-compliance).
  3. A clear, succinct narrative that presents a convincing justification of compliance based on analysis and appropriate links to reliable, current, verifiable, coherent, objective, relative and representative evidence.
  4. A list of all supporting evidence documentation referenced in the narrative.
You can help by responding to requests for documentation, providing input about the QEP, acknowledging and supporting the work of the reaffirmation teams and committees, staying informed through this website, and asking questions about anything you don't understand. Our success depends on collective dedication to this important endeavor.
For general OR questions about Compliance Certification, contact Dr. Narendra Patel,, Ext. 2072.