April 3, 2022
At the Florida Board of Governor’s meeting last Tuesday, board member Alan Levine said that he believes Gov. Ron DeSantis will move forward with signing SB 7044, officially changing policy across public post-secondary institutions that includes Florida’s institutional accreditation standards.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2022, institutions will be prohibited from being accredited by the same accrediting institution from a previous cycle. This means that, roughly every five years, institutions must begin the process of gathering information needed by new accreditors and apply.
The Board of Governors promises to include leaders from Florida’s public institutions in the conversations. They aim to have a more thorough plan for implementation by August.
Dr. Christy England, vice chancellor for the State University System of Florida, said that the board has already begun the process of connecting with identifying accrediting agencies for their institutions and looking at the pros and cons of having more than one accrediting body in the state.
Traditionally, institutions in Florida are usually accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC’s accreditation spans the U.S. south and is one of six regional accreditors. SACSCOC accredits four-year, two-year, research one institutions, and community and technical colleges.
SB 7044 bill could change the role SACSCOC plays in Florida, and scholars worry that the cost and labor of reaccreditation will potentially harm those institutions with fewer resources.
SACSCOC’s authority was called into question in Florida after issuing letters to the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU). The letters, sent as part of SACSCOC protocol, contained information published in the media regarding incidents of potential interference with academic freedom and a potential example of undue influence in the search for FSU’s president.