GGC Achieves SACS Candidacy Milestone

Students, faculty and administrators of Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) are celebrating today’s decision of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges to grant GGC candidacy status towards its accreditation. This achievement is a critical milestone in the development of the new college.

Students, faculty and administrators of Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) are celebrating today’s decision of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges to grant GGC candidacy status towards its accreditation. This achievement is a critical milestone in the development of the new college.

Today’s vote by the SACS Commission on Colleges acknowledges GGC’s official candidacy status with the Commission. By earning this status, GGC has been found compliant with the core and federal criteria required by SACS, thus moving the college closer to membership as an accredited institution.

“We are pleased that our state’s newest four-year institution has been granted candidacy status,” says Richard Tucker, chair-elect of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the sitting Regent for Georgia’s seventh congressional district, which encompasses the GGC campus. “This is an important step for Georgia Gwinnett College and the community it serves. Its rapid progress in working through the requirements of SACS helps the University System of Georgia create a more educated Georgia, and it helps us accommodate the growing enrollment throughout the state.”

Candidacy status also allows GGC to apply immediately for federal financial aid programs such as Pell grants and Stafford loans—programs that are used throughout the nation to help students and families pay for college. The Hope scholarship and GGC Foundation grants are currently available to Georgia Gwinnett students.

GGC’s new status allows it to proceed in its pursuit of membership with SACS over the next 18 to 24 months. Its staff and faculty, as a team, are completing the remainder of the documentation required to verify compliance with additional SACS requirements.

“Candidacy means that GGC has met critical standards in several key areas,” said Cathy Hakes, GGC director of accreditation and certification. “Areas such as faculty qualifications, academic programs, financial resources, facilities and library resources were all accepted as compliant under SACS published guidelines, validating the tremendous efforts of faculty and staff over the last two years.”

“Candidacy also supports seamless transferability of GGC credits to colleges and universities across the nation,” added Hakes. Many of our students have already
successfully applied and been accepted to graduate schools, including one student who has been accepted into a master’s program at Harvard University.”

The standard accreditation process is basically a three-step process, typically spaced over several years—application, candidacy and accreditation. Thousands of pages of documentation and records are provided to the accrediting agency, which reviews them and sends a team to visit on-site and verify the submitted materials, assess facilities and interview faculty, staff and students. GGC submitted its application for candidacy in October 2007, and at its December 2007 annual meeting, SACS granted GGC a candidacy committee visit. In March 2008, a six-member committee representing SACS visited the Lawrenceville campus and filed a report to the Commission that led to this favorable vote.

The SACS Commission on Colleges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the authority for reviewing and approving learning programs throughout the Southeast. SACS supervises and grants the accreditation process to ensure the quality and standards of academic institutions.

“Candidacy is but one of several remarkable achievements for GGC this year,” noted President Daniel J. Kaufman. “Ground breakings are scheduled for a new library, student activities center and student dormitories later this fall, adding to the recent opening of our new fitness center, parking deck, dining facilities, and the launch of our first study abroad opportunity and intramural sports programs. However, today I am delighted that we have received this significant announcement from SACS that GGC met the requirements for candidacy. It is certainly a tribute to the hard work of all our faculty and staff that we were able to accomplish this very important task.”

GGC students will make history this Saturday morning when, as part of the college’s charter graduating class, they will participate in commencement ceremonies. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle will deliver the keynote address to the students at 10 a.m. on the Lawrenceville campus.

Prospective students wanting to learn more about GGC may attend an Open House on Sat., July 19, to be held from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Visit www.ggc.usg.edu for more information.

GGC is the first new four-year public college created in Georgia in more than 100 years. It opened with 119 students in the fall of 2006, and more than 3,000 students are expected to enroll this fall, with future projections set at 15,000 students by the year 2015. It continues to accept applications for enrollment for this fall’s semester.

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