ATHENS, Ga. - A two-year self-study of the University of Georgia by more than 100 teachers and administrators could make the school a better place for its 24,000 undergraduate students, according to school administrators.
The self-study, which produced a 2.5-inch, 1,000-page document, is being reviewed this week by a 20-person team of outside administrators from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as the University of Georgia seeks to have its accreditation renewed from the organization.
The reaccreditation is in one sense a formality, a long series of checklists - about 500 items - that Southern colleges are asked to measure themselves by every 10 years.
But this time, the Georgia university decided to do something different, according to Bob Boehmer, the business school professor who led the reaccreditation committee. The committee decided to come up with a comprehensive plan to "enhance the undergraduate experience" for students.
The result was really two reports, Mr. Boehmer said: the traditional checklist report and a second one containing recommendations for improving the quality of the school's undergraduate education.
"I'm confident we meet all the standards for accreditation," Mr. Boehmer said. "(The report's) biggest contribution is that it creates a sense of community and a sense of collective ownership of the direction in which the university is headed."
The reaccreditation checklists provide evidence that the school:
Employ faculty members qualified to accomplish its purpose
Have an effective program of financial aid consistent with its purpose and reflecting the needs of students
Give access to an effective program of health services and education
Control the athletics program and contributes to its direction with appropriate participation by faculty and students and oversight by the governing board
Include qualitative and quantitative requirements in admissions policies to identify students who demonstrate reasonable potential for success
Have intramural sports programs that contribute to personal development of students and are related to the total program of the university
Formulate clear and explicit goals for its distance learning programs
More than 200 University of Georgia employees and students have met in about 250 meetings during the past two years to put together the study, Mr. Boehmer said.
Besides reviewing the school's report, the SACS committee members met with faculty, students and administrators Monday and Tuesday. This morning, they will sit down for a closed-door final session with university President Michael Adams and other top administrators, with a formal report and decision on reaccreditation to follow in several weeks, Mr. Adams said.
The university is already going ahead with some of the recommendations in its report - called simply "Enhancing the Undergraduate Experience."_
The SACS committee's visit this week marks not the end but the second phase of the study, Mr. Boehmer said.
"This is the end of the internal process, but the beginning of implementing the advice of our internal committee and the advice we get from the outside committee," he said.