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Two years of work preparing for the university's reaccreditation review is now over, and the preliminary assessment by the SACS/COC Reaffirmation of Accreditation Visiting Committee was well-received by university officials.

The 18-member committee of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, which was on campus last week to interview faculty and administrators, issued its exit report the morning of Feb. 28 in Webb Center. The findings included only eight recommendations and 18 suggestions. Old Dominion also received two commendations, which are rarely given in reaccreditation reviews.

The recommendations, explained Charles Nash, chair of the committee, have to do with actions the university must take in order to maintain accreditation for another 10 years, while the suggestions, he said, are the committee's way of saying, "Think about this; here's something that might help you to be even stronger and better than you might have been."

Among the recommendations were that the university require qualitative assessment of both undergraduate and graduate applicants, and that an effective orientation program for all full- and part-time graduate students be made available.

One recommendation in particular, that the university submit an audited fiscal year financial report be submitted, are among those already being addressed, according to Old Dominion officials.

Nash praised the university's Self-Study Report, and Rudy Jackson, SACS/COC associate executive director and liaison with Old Dominion, told those gathered for the exit report, "Many of these [recommendations] you've already begun to address. You should be justifiably pleased with this report."

Commenting on the report after the meeting, President Roseann Runte said, "The fact that we had only eight recommendations is highly complimentary to the university and the work of David Hager, John P. Broderick and their staffs, as well as the 300 people on campus who contributed to the self-study."

She added, "The fact that we had two commendations is truly outstanding. I understand it's very rare that they're given at all. It's an indication of the quality at Old Dominion University."

The SACS/COC committee commended the TELETECHNET program for its "exemplary support services, coordination of programs and dedication to providing a quality experience for distance learning students," Nash said.

The second commendation came in the area of student development services. The committee complimented the university "for its efforts to ensure institutional effectiveness by using exemplary practices, and its engagement of the planning process of assessment in the Division of Student Services," Nash said.

When measured against 432 "must" statements that the university has to comply with to satisfy reaccreditation standards, the fact that Old Dominion received only eight recommendations - plus two commendations - constituted an excellent review, Hager said.

In addition, the university received only two recommendations from a National Collegiate Athletic Association committee, whose members were also on campus last week as part of their certification peer review of the university's athletic program. According to Runte, the NCAA group's recommendations were, in the words of its chair, "extremely minor." The report also included considerable praise for Old Dominion's athletic program.

"We have a great deal to be proud of with both of these achievements," Hager noted.

After the university responds to both the SACS and NCAA recommendations, the two organizations will make their decisions regarding reaccreditation and recertification, respectively, in December.

A transcript of the SACS oral exit report may be viewed on the Web at http://www.odu.edu/al/sacs/sacshome.html.

This article was posted on: March 15, 2002

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