Senior administration wants to hear from those in the Covenant College community about their ideas for making Covenant a better place to learn and they’re making that possible by opening the door for Covenant’s Quality Enhancement Plan.
Every ten years, Covenant College must renew its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Accreditation of a school assures members of that college and the public that it has adequate learning goals and tools to achieve higher education according to standards set up by SACSCOC.
Covenant’s accreditation expires in spring of 2017, but the senior administration at Covenant is beginning to plan now. A requirement for this renewal is the QEP.
According to the SACSCOC Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation, “The QEP describes a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution.”
In other words, submissions to the QEP should be a well thought-out topic or idea that will strengthen Covenant College’s mission in terms of academics or something that bolsters student learning.
For example, a student may consider the idea of “rest” to be a potential area of growth and have some specific ideas on how the college could implement that as a factor in student learning, or perhaps a student might believe the campus needs to be more sensitive to creativity.
In 2007 the topic was “Who is My Neighbor?” to strengthen student understanding of different cultures and plug cultural understanding into the college’s curriculum. Dr. Kevin Eames, a professor in the Psychology department, was responsible for collecting ideas and writing the proposal.
Tad Mindeman, head librarian at Covenant College, was asked by the senior administration to head up the beginning portion of the college’s “reaffirmation of accreditation” for 2017. He is in charge of guiding the Covenant community as it brainstorms. He is chairing a committee of faculty, staff, a board of trustees adviser, an alumnus, and a student. This committee will evaluate ideas and make a recommendation of one main topic or idea to the senior administration.
The opportunity to submit ideas to the QEP has already been presented to faculty, staff, and board of trustees; advertising to students will begin after Fall Break with an announcement in chapel.
“We’re launching the call to the entire Covenant Community to come up with new ideas,” Mindeman said. Every member of the Covenant College family is eligible to submit ideas for change or improvement. The college wants total community involvement and as many good ideas as it can gather in the next six months.
Furthermore, according to Mindeman, the committee has decided to “spice it up by offering incentive prizes.” The first twenty legitimate topic submissions will get a unique Covenant-inspired surprise. The grand prize for the overall winner will be a commissioned piece of art. “We’re working out the details for the artist who will be involved,” Mindeman said expectantly. When a topic is chosen, it will be widely promoted to the entire community.
Mindeman said the key goal is that “whatever good ideas are submitted will relate to institutional planning, particularly the new strategic plan from last year. A QEP tied to one of those would be ideal.” It is best, too, if it can be empirically measured to assess progress and effectiveness.
The deadline for student submissions is February 15, 2015. Depending on the amount and quality of submissions, the final idea will be discussed at the Board of Trustees meeting in March of 2015. After the idea is chosen , the senior administration will select a committee to design the plan, write, promote, and assess it, a process that will likely take over a year. The plan must be submitted to SACSCOC in Fall 2016.
The submission form as well as more information and topic examples from other colleges can be found on Covenant’s website at www.covenant.edu/qep.