By David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
College administration with the January TRACS peer review team
“I would like to share some very good news,” said Dr. Walker in a noontime e-mail to the campus community. “Just minutes ago, after a face-to-face meeting, the commission voted to reaffirm Patrick Henry College's accreditation, without conditions, for another ten years. As a result, Patrick Henry College continues to benefit from accreditation that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, by the State of Virginia, by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and other institutions and organizations. Our initial accreditation was for a period of five years, and our reaffirmation extends for ten years, the longest period they could have granted.”
The decision came two months after a January TRACS “peer review team” visited campus as part of a comprehensive assessment of PHC’s compliance with TRACS standards. “That external review,” said Dr. McCollum following the team’s visit, “undergirds the mission of the College insofar as it requires external accountability and transparency, both of which are clearly biblical principles. It is a process that promotes fidelity to PHC’s mission.”
In its review, a TRACS team of higher education experts utilized a “self–study” prepared by PHC administrators, which included written evaluations and documentation covering over 100 criteria. In its three-day review, the team visited classes and conducted interviews with administrators, faculty, staff and students.
“It’s very exciting,” said Dr. McCollum following Tuesday’s announcement. “It’s obviously a historic moment for College and a good mark of our developmental steps toward maturity as an institution. We were deeply blessed, as well, by the commentary of the (TRACS) Commissioner, who commended us for a very historic performance, with only one recommendation out of 218 standards and sub-standards.”
She noted that the College also received two commendations for its overall vision and quality of faculty, and for the comprehensiveness of its institutional effectiveness and strategic planning process.
“I think it’s very uncommon and significant,” observed Dr. McCollum of the commission’s high marks for PHC. “It’s a very rare outcome that everyone on campus should be excited and pleased about. It recognizes our growth and means that PHC is emerging as an example of excellence amongst the body of TRACS institutions, as stated and affirmed by other member institutions.”
After Tuesday’s hearing, she shared that the vice president of academic affairs at Bob Jones University personally “thanked us for being standout institution for TRACS. This is a testament to our exceptional executive leadership and to the outstanding and ongoing daily contributions of everyone on campus.”
Added Dr. Walker: “The reaffirmation of PHC's TRACS accreditation is a tribute to a great deal of hard work exerted by many members of our community. Thank you once again to everyone who has poured so much effort into achieving this important goal.” In his e-mail sign-off, Dr. Walker wrote: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." (Ps. 115:1).
The College’s initial accreditation with TRACS was announced on April 17, 2007, and culminated the College’s four-year “candidacy status” with the Christian accreditor. The announcement was made at the TRACS commission meeting in Virginia Beach, Va., and prompted PHC founder and chancellor, Dr. Michael Farris, to proclaim that it was “the biggest single day in the history of the College. We praise the Lord for his hand of favor upon us.”
TRACS is approved by the United States Department of Education (USDE) as a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency and appears on the Secretary’s List of Approved Accrediting Agencies, which is provided in the Higher Education Directory. TRACS is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA) and maintains the College’s standing with the State Council for Higher Education (SCHEV) in Virginia, which requires accreditation from a federally recognized accreditor.