Just the other day I answered a question about 14.5 and thought that it would make a good post. Then the same question popped up on one of the accreditation email lists with some excellent advice. Made me wonder if I needed to write it, but since I do regularly get questions on 14.5…
Usually when people ask questions about a standard, I share what I know and guide them to the Resource Manual. This is not one of those times. The Resource Manual piles more confusion on 14.5 rather than clearing up what is expected. Rather than the Resource Manual, the place to look is at the Compliance Certification template posted on the SACSCOC webpage. Once you scroll to the end to find 14.5 on page 22 and 23 you will see that there actually is a 14.5.a and a 14.5.b. Here is what you need to know.
Standard 14.5.a is for institutions that are part of a system or corporate structure. For example, I have consulted with two institutions in the Alabama Community College System (ACCS). That system is governed by one statewide Board of Trustees and has a Chancellor with the power to, among other things, hire and fire Presidents in the ACCS. They had to respond to 14.5.a as part of a state system. The last two institutions I worked for before starting Southeastern Accreditation Consultants were in the Florida College System. While the structure is very different, they also needed to respond to 14.5. So who doesn’t need to respond to 14.5.a? How about a private not-for-profit institution that is wholly owned by the Board of Trustees and has no other affiliations? They would respond with a simple, “The University of Doug is not part of any system or corporate structure.” This is one of those, “You know it when you see it” things, if you are part of a system, you know it and you need to provide your reviewers with that context.
Standard 14.5.b is a much stranger animal. In the case that SACSCOC determines that one or more of your off campus instructional sites (OCIS) or branch campuses (“extended unit” in the policy) has become “sufficiently autonomous” then they will use this policy to recommend separate accreditation for that unit. This is more involved than an OCIS taking on characteristics of a branch campus. Institutions don’t do anything with this unless instructed to by SACSCOC.
Is that it? Sure, for now. When it comes time for your next reaffirmation take another look at the template to make sure the expectations have not changed.
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