Good Accreditation News for Liberty University

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September 7th, 2012

By Jacqueline Foster, Editor

Liberty University, a private, nonprofit institution in Lynchburg, Va., known for its Christian worldview and extensive online degree offerings, recently received good news on the accreditation front. Liberty announced yesterday that its regional accreditation agency, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, had accepted its Fifth-Year Interim Report with no further information needed.

For an accreditor not to request additional reporting from an institution is rare, and is a strong indicator that the university had gone above and beyond in proving in its report that it had met 17 of the accreditor’s most crucial standards regarding academics and faculty, administration and operations, student services and financial aid, and more, university leaders said in the news release. In fact, such a circumstance is so rare that only one or two higher education institutions a year have their Interim Report accepted without further requests for documentation, according to Dr. Ron Godwin, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Such a response from SACS was exciting to Liberty University’s leadership, who explained that in years past when Liberty had submitted such a report, the accreditor had asked for up to 80 additional reports. For Liberty University, one of the most difficult parts of submitting a satisfactory Fifth-Year Interim Report was reporting data on learning outcomes, since Liberty Online serves more than 80,000 students, not counting residential programs, the news release explained. The report had to show, among other things, that both on-campus learners and e-learners were learning the skills necessary to prepare them for careers associated with their major.

"We were able to demonstrate the comparability (between online and residential programs); that’s a huge standard that most universities fail," said Bill Wheeler, Liberty’s associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, in the news release.

SACS first accredited Liberty University in 1980, and proceeded to award Liberty Level VI accreditation, a category reserved for higher education institutions that offer four or more doctoral programs, in 2009. Liberty University Online offers more than 100 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, including degree programs in aeronautics, business administration, criminal justice, education, nursing, psychology, religion, and more.

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