GCC faces another test for accreditation

LAWRENCEVILLE - A committee representing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will visit Georgia Gwinnett College this week to determine the institution's compliance with the agency's requirements for accreditation, officials said.

The visit is one of the final steps before the SACS Commission on Colleges decides if the state's newest four-year college will be granted its initial accreditation. Georgia Gwinnett College was granted candidacy toward accreditation on June 26, two days before its first graduation and just less than two years after the University System of Georgia school opened in Lawrenceville.

"While the achievement of SACS candidacy status last June was critical for enhancing the transferability of our credits to other colleges and graduate schools as well as for the approval for federal financial aid funding, accreditation is even more important," said Stas Preczewski, the college's vice president of academic and student affairs. "In short, accreditation verifies that GGC has an appropriate mission that is adequately resourced for its accomplishment, as well as certifying achievement of specified educational objectives."

Because accreditation is an earned status, colleges cannot become accredited before they open. The college's journey toward accreditation has not hampered its students; one of the charter graduates was accepted into graduate school at Harvard University, GGC spokeswoman Merri Brantley said.

The SACS team of senior administrators and scholars from colleges throughout the Southeast has had several weeks to review Georgia Gwinnett's multi-thousand page application in preparation for its four-day comprehensive on-site review of the college, Preczewski said. While on campus, the committee will visit with staff, faculty and students "to assess the degree to which GGC meets their standards of excellence in all areas related to the delivery of our baccalaureate degree programs," he said.

"The staff and faculty have worked long and hard to reach this culminating point in the process," he said. "The GGC team looks forward to this rigorous external review of the expanding programs, services, facilities and financial resources of this college as it serves the citizens of the greater Gwinnett County area."

Nearly 1,700 students attend Georgia Gwinnett College, which opened in the fall of 2006 with about 120 students.