Call for Proposals

2021 SACSCOC Annual Meeting

Emerging STRONGer: Celebrating Resilience, Renewal, and Return

Dallas, Texas | December 4 – 7

Deadline for Submission: April 23, 2021

The Annual Meeting is known as the gathering place for higher education institutions seeking guidance on how to maintain compliance with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation, prepare for peer reviews, and submit accreditation-related reports.  While accreditation stands as the bedrock of the conference’s activities, institutions that are between reaffirmation reviews use the Annual Meeting as a time to begin reevaluation and setting out on a new path to determine how things can be done differently or improve upon what may have been learned from the accreditation process.  Regardless of the reason for attending, the Annual Meeting is an ideal setting for member institutions to engage with one another to glean how peers carry out strategies to continuously improve the way they carry out their missions to educate our students. The conference creates an opportunity to bring common topics to light.

The 2021 Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee has decided that this year’s conference will highlight how we emerge from the pandemic which has affected nearly all of the ways we’ve traditionally operated. Higher education as we know it may never be the way it was before COVID-19 entered our lives.  We have learned a great deal from this experience.  Recognizing the reality of what we have been through but also seeing the opportunity for reinvention is the message that should resonate for this year’s conference. 

Resilience and reinvention frame the work that comes next.  We have all had time to contemplate ways to move past the pandemic and identify changes that have been dictated by COVID-19 and how it’s shaping our academic programs and operational efforts going forward. Now more than ever we have learned the value of community.  

Consider participating in the 2021 Annual Meeting to share with your colleagues your institution’s lessons learned and creative strategies. The 2021 Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee is seeking proposals that directly address the following program tracks:

Summarizing the basics of accreditation and reaffirmation

  • What should institutions know about organizing accreditation and reaffirmation processes?  How can institutions distribute preparatory work and structure and utilize committees to assist with compliance reporting?
  • Several years following the implementation of the 2018 Principles of Accreditation, how are institutions now interpreting, cultivating sources of evidence, and developing their responses when submitting Compliance Certification Reports, Fifth-Year Interim Reports, Monitoring Reports, and other accreditation-related documents?
  • What are the basics of QEP development, from consensus-building to reporting?
  • In what ways do institutions represent and manage Substantive Change?  What best practices can help institutions recognize and prepare for reporting Substantive Changes and outcomes?
  • How can institutions identify, develop/review, and publish required institutional policies?  What are institutions doing for state authorization?  How are institutions addressing federal regulations (e.g., Title III, Title IV, Title IX, ADA) while maintaining accreditation? 
  • What effective practices can Chief Financial Officers implement to maintain compliance?

Taking advantage of and capitalizing on the reaffirmation cycle’s “between years”

  • How do institutions maintain engagement across campus and between campuses, continue methodical and measured pace of work, and integrate best practices in accreditation planning?
  • How can institutions promote campus-wide engagement with the idea and practice of institutional effectiveness?  What frameworks, traditions, and policies help promote cultures of assessment and evidence-guided practice, especially when the immediate pressures of accreditation or reaffirmation have waned?
  • How do institutions shift or at least extend campus dialogue toward lasting improvements toward learning?  Beyond accreditation, how do institutions regularize introspection and discovery in teaching along with learning for betterment?

Reorienting teaching and learning in periods of social and physical disruption

  • What accomplishments can institutions celebrate and incorporate into standard operating policies and procedures? 
  • How did the pandemic force rapid innovation in curriculum, pedagogy, delivery, and advising?
  • How are institutions assisting recent high school graduates in preparing for entry into college after having lost instructional time being out of the classroom for this past year?  What flexibilities are institutions making in their admission requirements?
  • How have institutions managed the accreditation processes these past 18 months?  How are institutions reinterpreting their QEPs in the wake of COVID-era disruptions?
  • How do institutions build “earthquake-proof” strategic plans — ones that can weather the shocks of education disruption — in the future?
  • With new methods of instruction come novel ideas and challenges to student learning and engagement.  How are institutions adapting, maintaining, and achieving SLOs?
  • What innovative opportunities have led to academic success for non-traditional students?

Organizing and adapting our infrastructure to meet new challenges

  • Do the financial impacts of COVID-era economic hardships facilitate or stymie innovation?  How have institutions responded to budget contractions?
  • How have institutions adapted to the changing public health, political, and legislative landscape? 
  • What lessons have institutions learned about campus physical spaces, both organizational and maintenance?
  • What institutional changes have been implemented during the pandemic that will continue after the pandemic has ended?

Nurturing our best selves: Personal and professional development

  • What have institutions learned about faculty learning and support needs in the past year?  What will faculty and staff development look like in a post-COVID world? 
  • How have institutions supported personal wellness for students and employees?  Have institutions learned ways of caring for those who care for students?
  • What does faculty and staff development look like when personal energy stores are depleted?  How do institutions restore the well?
  • What strategies are institutions using to address stress and “Zoom fatigue” for faculty, staff, and students?
  • When considering which programs and courses can be migrated to virtual spaces, what resources must institutions marshal to do so effectively?  How are institutions preparing students for an increasing diversity of course types and instructional platforms along with technologies?
  • As COVID-19 forced the redesign of learning activities, how have faculty considered or made changes to formative and summative assessment in the classroom?

Guiding personal and institutional engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • How are institutions defining student types to be included in diversity, equity, and inclusion? 
  • What models help structure and facilitate campus-wide instruction and dialogue in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • How do institutions make sufficient space for educational discussions of the public traumas of the past several years?
  • How are institutions experimenting with or developing academic and student support services that specifically work towards improving representation, diversity and inclusivity of the learning community, and equity of learning outcomes?
  • How do institutions work toward an understanding of race and ethnicity and how those identities influence student experiences and outcomes in college?
  • How do institutions designate under-represented or historically marginalized students?  How do institutions query, interpret, and use student race/ethnicity attributes responsibly and in true service of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • How are institutions understanding and responding to the learning and developmental experiences of first-generation students, LGBTQIA+ students, and other under-supported or historically marginalized communities?
  • How inclusive are institutions in their own definitions of diversity, where a plurality of ideas and perspectives is also valued?

Special Topics

A number of current issues in higher education dom­inate the cover stories of journals, periodicals, and websites. While considering the conference theme, proposals in this track should stimulate discussion and encourage participants to share methods to address these current issues facing higher education.

Format of Proposed Session

The 2021 Annual Meeting Program will feature more than 150 different sessions offered by approved proposal submissions, including concurrent sessions, group discussions, poster sessions, and workshops. Consider the appropriate format of your session that will best ensure participants are able to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Below is a description of each session format:

  • Poster sessions feature a visually appealing presentation consisting of results from a research project that includes implications for a wider audience.
  • Group discussions feature an open discussion between a knowledgeable facilitator and a small group. While the group discussions are 60 minutes, formal presentations will not be considered.
  • Concurrent sessions offer practical applications (what worked and what did not work). It is imperative that the content extend beyond “this is how we did it” to the discussion being generalizable to other institutions. Concurrent sessions will be 60 minutes and should include at least 5–10 minutes for questions from the audience. Some topics may warrant 90 minutes, provided they are fully justified and include an active learning component.
  • Workshops incorporate active learning during sessions led by experienced professionals in full-day (6 hours) and half-day (3 hours) time frames. A schedule of activities to be conducted during the allotted time must be included in the proposal. In addition, the content must include both didactic and applied instruction that is relevant to accreditation and/or the theme. Workshop presenters should be knowledgeable in their fields and capable of presenting the content in creative ways and applying it to real problems in academia.

Target Audience, Content Level, and Institution Level

Each proposal should identify the target audience that will benefit most from participating in the session (QEP Leadership Teams, Accreditation Liaisons, academic administrators, faculty, assessment officers, etc.).

Each proposal should also indicate the anticipated content level of the topic as defined below:

  • Beginner content covers basic topics in accreditation or higher education. Familiarity with the Principles of Accreditation may be helpful; however, in most cases, prior knowledge is not assumed.
  • Intermediate content covers theory and practice in topics in accreditation or higher education for participants with some related work experience.
  • Advanced content covers highly developed or complex topics, knowledge, or skills for participants with several years of related work experience. Usually, advanced sessions provide an opportunity for participants to apply the content to a real problem or to analyze some of the concepts presented.

To identify the target institution level(s) for your session, use the categories below, which reflect the highest degree offered at a member institution:

  • Level I – Associate degrees
  • Level II – Baccalaureate degree
  • Levels III-VI – Master, Educational Specialist, or Doctorate degree

Components of Proposal Evaluation

All proposals should be well developed with thorough responses. Incomplete documentation will not be reviewed. Proposals will be evaluated on how well the questions below are answered.

  1. Proposal title – Does the title clearly describe the session and enhance interest?
  2. Session description (to appear in the mobile app/program) – Does the description coherently and concisely describe what will be covered in the session while piquing the interest of an attendee?
  3. Relevance of the topic and its appropriateness to the theme – Does the proposal make a strong compelling argument for its inclusion in the conference program? Does it represent a timely/hot topic that is relevant to the field of higher education? Is the topic appropriate for the conference theme?
  4. Organization of session – Is there a well-structured, descriptive outline (with realistic timeframes) of the session content? Does the outline reflect coherence with the session title, description, and participant learning outcomes?
  5. Participant learning outcomes – Are the participant learning outcomes realistic, clearly stated, and reflect what participants will learn, instead of what the presenter will do during the session? Will the participants receive practical, transferable knowledge?
  6. Active learning (workshops and 90-minute concurrent sessions only) – Does the proposal include meaningful activities for participants that appropriately support the participant learning outcomes?
  7. Professionalism – Does the proposal reflect the professionalism expected of SACSCOC presenters (well-written and error-free)?

Proposal Submission

Proposals must be submitted on or before April 23, 2021.

To preview the proposal questions, click on Proposal Questions.

To submit a proposal, click on Proposal Submission Form.

To submit a second proposal, click on Second Proposal Submission Form.