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Faculty and the Accreditation Process

General Information

UTHSC was once independently accredited by SACS. Most recently, UTHSC has been part of the "Big Orange" accreditation that included the University of Tennessee Knoxville, UT Institute of Agriculture, UT Institute for Public Service, and Tullahoma. We are now once again moving toward independent accreditation for UTHSC.

We will initially apply for candidacy. This requires UTHSC to demonstrate that we meet several Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements. The tab, SACS Requirements and Standards, lists those that are most relevant to our faculty.

The tab, UTHSC Policies and Procedures, describes the processes that have been put in place to enable us to successfully demonstrate compliance with the requirements and standards that are most relevant to faculty.

The FAQ tab is an ever-expanding list of questions and answers about this process. Send your questions to if they are not already addressed in the FAQs and we will answer them and post the answers.

The Forms and Documents tab provides a centralized location for you to access and download needed materials.

To enable us to obtain required documentation that will demonstrate faculty credentials, you will enter information into a database. Instructions for accessing and using that database are in the tab entitled Accessing and Using the Faculty Credentials Website.

The Relevant Links tab provides ready access to a variety of resources that are of most interest in the SACS Accreditation Process. If you've identified resources that would be helpful and that aren't listed, send an email to and we'll add them.

SACS Requirements & Standards

In the document The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement , the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) lists 12 Core Requirements, 14 Comprehensive Standards, and 9 Federal Requirements. Counting the sub-parts results in 84 unique requirements.

  • Core Requirements are basic, broad-based, foundational requirements that an institution must meet to be accredited with the Commission on Colleges.
  • Comprehensive Standards are more specific to the operations of the institution, represent good practice in higher education, and establish a level of accomplishment expected of all member institutions.
  • Federal Requirements focus on an institution's compliance with criteria outlined in the federal regulations developed by the U.S. Department of Education.

An applicant institution seeking candidacy (which is the status of UTHSC as of Summer 2013) is required to document compliance with the following requirements and standards to move forward in seeking accreditation.

  • Core Requirements 2.1 - 2.11
  • Comprehensive Standards 3.3.1, 3.5.1, 3.7.1
  • Federal Requirements 4.1 - 4.9

Of the listed requirements and standards, the ones that are of most relevance to faculty in terms of credentialing include:

  • The number of full-time faculty members is adequate to support the mission of the institution and to ensure the quality and integrity of each of its academic programs. Upon application for candidacy, an applicant institution demonstrates that it meets the comprehensive standard for faculty qualifications. Core Requirement 2.8
  • At least 25 percent of the course hours in each major at the baccalaureate level are taught by faculty members holding an appropriate terminal degree -- usually the earned doctorate or the equivalent of the terminal degree. Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4
  • The institution employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution. When determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty, an institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline. The institution also considers competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including, as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes. For all cases, the institution is responsible for justifying and documenting the qualifications of its faculty. (See Commission guidelines "Faculty Credentials.") Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1
UTHSC Policies & Procedures 

UTHSC must document that our faculty are qualified to teach the subjects they are assigned to teach. While we have every confidence that this is the case, SACS requires us to justify and document our faculty's qualifications.

Our application for candidacy covers Academic Year 2012-2013, therefore we must justify and document faculty qualifications for our recently-completed academic year. Our central faculty files must show documentation of the doctoral degree, or terminal degree as appropriate for one’s field. Additionally, since some qualifications may be derived from coursework taken from an institution from which a faculty member did not graduate or from a degree program that was completed prior to receipt of the terminal degree, transcripts from those institutions must also be in our faculty files.

As noted in the UTHSC Faculty Handbook, Section 4.7.2, Execution of a faculty appointment agreement requires documentation of the candidate’s credentials (including a copy of his/her diploma and transcripts) and evidence of licensure where appropriate. The Office of Academic Affairs is taking on the task of getting our current faculty files up to date in the instance of needing further transcripts. However, we expect the colleges to continue obtaining the required documentation for all faculty appointed after July 1, 2012.

In order to facilitate this process, we implemented the following procedure:

  1. Beginning Tuesday, June 19, 2012 faculty will log onto the SACS Faculty Credentials website to provide information on institutions attended and semesters taught by college. Faculty will also upload their current CV (see the document in the Forms & Documents tab entitled Accessing and Using the SACS Faculty Credentials Website).
  2. Faculty for whom we need additional documentation will then sign a request form for each institution they’ve listed that authorizes my office to request their transcripts (see the document in the Forms & Documents tab entitled Official Transcript Authorization Request). These request forms will be distributed centrally from the departments.

Cindy Russell  Chair of SACS Faculty Credentials Work Group

Cheryl Scheid  Co-chair of SACS Accreditation

Alicia Dorsey  Co-chair of SACS Accreditation

College representatives to the SACS Faculty Credentials Work Group


Accessing and Using the Faculty Credentials Website

Last Published: Mar 21, 2019