Patrick Henry College
|Dr. Walker debriefs staff on TRACS visit|
An on-site review of Patrick Henry College by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)wrapped up Wednesday, Jan. 24, with an encouraging, far-reaching institutional assessment, completing a pivotal step leading to the TRACS Commission accreditation meeting in late April.
As is their policy with every school visited by a TRACS site team, the team did not offer a specific recommendation for or against accreditation. Instead, the team offered both praise and constructive commentary on a wide range of college functions, and provided a list of specific recommendations for improvement. During their visit, the team commented positively on teaching quality, leadership, self-study effectiveness, and newly enacted administrative and governance structures. A number of their specific recommendations constitute an opportunity for the College to provide additional evidence, before the April meeting, showing that the new governance structures are functioning as designed to advance the College’s Christian educational mission.
“Based on their feedback during the visit and the exit interview,” reported PHC President Graham Walker, “their (site team) overall perceptions of the College, its programs, classes, faculty and students were overwhelmingly positive. Out of approximately 100 specific standards they evaluated, many having to do with evidence demonstrating the efficacy of new internal structures and protocols, the TRACS team made 20 recommendations regarding specific standards, and a lesser number of (non-binding) suggestions. In effect, this moves us on to the next phase of the accreditation process.”
The TRACS team’s recommendations relate primarily to comprehensive new governance and administrative protocols submitted by the College for approval at the October Board of Trustees meeting. On whole, the policies clarify and improve internal assessment, decision-making and approval processes, faculty development and evaluation, as well as grievance protocols. Approved unanimously by the trustees in October, put into effect November 1, and then submitted for TRACS review prior to this week’s site visit, they position PHC for long-term progress and expansion, says Dr. Walker. The TRACS panel’s observations, he added, grant a window of opportunity to observe it in practice a bit longer.
“I found the TRACS (site team) to be very encouraging and supportive of what we’re trying to accomplish at the College,” Dr. Walker added. “They asked hard questions but provided detailed feedback about new structures and processes which will assist us as we move toward full accreditation.”
The College will respond to the TRACS report shortly to correct any errors or omissions of fact. In addition, PHC will provide a response to the recommendations as cited in the TRACS report, along with other new evidence of institutional effectiveness, in March. All of this material will then be compiled and submitted to the TRACS Commission in advance of the formal public accreditation decision hearing in April.
TRACS is a federally-recognized accrediting agency that provides accountability and quality-control to a wide range of Christian educational institutions. All newly-established colleges undergo a multi-year “candidacy” with accrediting agencies before they are fully accredited.