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Students are not the only people learning something new on the campus of St. Catharine College.
A team of four, consisting of Dr. Rob Slocum, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Nora Hatton, Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Evelyn Silliman, Director of the rtl3 Reading Program, and Dr. Don Giles, Vice President for Academic Affairs, represented St. Catharine College at this year’s annual Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) conference held in Orlando, Florida from Friday, Dec. 2 through Tuesday, Dec. 6.
The team attended a multitude of workshops and sessions, including keynote addresses from Mr. Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, and Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity and innovation.
According to Dr. Giles, “The sessions and workshops are like golden nuggets, allowing us to bring back valuable insights and possibilities that will help strengthen the SCC experience for students by allowing us to offer many new and exciting programs. Probably the biggest highlight for me was attending Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote address. Sir Ken is a world renowned speaker on creativity and innovation and he is extremely enthusiastic about helping others discover their passion in life. The role of a college, he believes, is to facilitate that process by creatively engaging students in a transformative learning experience that incorporates meaningful, personal encounters along a holistic path of self-discovery. And I don’t care who you are, that’s exciting.”
SACS COC is the regional accreditation body for accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees.
At last year’s SACS COC conference, St. Catharine College was approved to begin offering master degrees, the first of which was launched last month in leadership, with tracks in community and regional studies, and in health promotions. And while the SCC team continues to pan out the various chunks of golden nuggets from this year’s conference, they are already laying out the plans to launch several new, exciting programs, for both undergraduates and graduate students, over the next few years.
“So stay tuned,” said a smiling Giles, “St. Catharine College may be well on the way of revolutionizing the world of higher education. And all of us at SCC are extremely excited about that.”