Lee News

Lee Reaccredited; Receives Rare Praise

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges announced at its annual conference Tuesday morning that Lee University has passed its ten-year reaffirmation with flying colors.

The SACSCOC Board of Trustees, led by SACS President Dr. Belle Wheelan, reaffirmed Lee’s accreditation with “no recommendations,” an unusual vote of confidence from the committee, meaning it would affirm its accreditation without requiring any additional action from the Cleveland, TN-based university.
Dr. Paul Conn

“‘No recommendations’ is the best of all possible results,” said Lee President Paul Conn. “It’s quite rare in this process and a significant statement about the confidence SACSCOC has in the quality of what we do here at Lee."

Conn was in Houston, Texas, with members of the Lee administrative team to hear the results announced publicly. "This is a big moment for Lee," he said, "and really gives us a boost as we move forward. We are all thrilled!"

Conn continued by praising the efforts of Lee senior administrators Dr. Jayson VanHook, who chaired Lee’s committee to apply for reaffirmation, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Debbie Murray, and Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, along with several other members of the committee.

“This team worked tirelessly for over two years to conduct a rigorous self-study and prepare for the review by off-site and on-site committees,” Conn said, “and it gave us a chance to show the Commission what a fine institution Lee has become.”
Jayson VanHook
Dr. Jayson VanHook

“We’re speechless,” said VanHook. “It’s unheard of, really. Our certification report contained about 95 standards, and the SACSCOC Board has signed off on all of them. It was a 238-page report with links to 2500 supporting documents. This announcement is more than we could have hoped for.”

The certification report, filed in September of 2014, led to a visit by the on-site evaluation team from SACSCOC at the Cleveland campus and all of Lee’s affiliated programs world-wide. Tuesday’s announcement was the official SACS response to this evaluation team’s recommendation.
Debbie Murray
Dr. Debbie Murray

“I’m just glad to hear the final word on the matter,” said Murray. “We had early signs that our committee was impressed with our report and our campus. Now it’s official, and it feels wonderful.”

Dirksen, who has played a key role in the last three reaffirmation self-studies, added, “We are accustomed to getting things right at Lee, and we’ve had a lot of positive reactions from SACSCOC over the years, but this is the best response I’ve seen. It’s an outstanding result to a large body of work by an equally large group of colleagues.”
Carolyn Dirksen
Dr. Carolyn Dirksen

The announcement was delivered to delegates from member institutions at the accreditor’s annual conference in Houston. SACSCOC, operating from its Atlanta offices, is the largest of the nation’s seven regional accreditors and monitors the quality of 800 colleges and universities in eleven states.

Conn has previously served two terms on the Executive Committee of the SACSCOC, and was recently elected to a three-year term on its Board of Appeals.
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