Ideas solicited for College's Quality Enhancement Plan

Ideas solicited for College's Quality Enhancement Plan

Feb. 16, 2012
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

During the fall of 2013, Maryville College will be evaluated by its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), during a process that occurs every 10 years.

Last reviewed in 2003, the College has already begun its evaluation of programs, goals and services as a part of the reaffirmation process. New to the process this time, however, is the development of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

Foundational for SACS reaffirmation of accreditation, the QEP is “an institutionally designed course of action that contributes to achievement of an identified student learning outcome,” said Dr. Jen Bruce, associate professor of mathematics and chairperson of Maryville College’s 11-member QEP Development Committee. “SACS also defines the QEP as an ‘opportunity for the institution to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness.’

“While compliance looks at the past and present, the QEP looks to the future,” she added.

SACS instituted the QEP requirement in 2004 and since then, colleges and institutions have implemented programs that address learning outcomes ranging from improved mathematics and writing skills to effective citizenship and leadership.

To educate people and begin collecting suggestions for specific themes and/or topics, a series of presentations and brainstorming sessions already have been held with faculty and staff members, students, and members of various boards of the College.

The committee is now ready to survey other constituencies and stakeholders. This month, the committee will be sending emails to current students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents, inviting them to take a brief online survey.

“Basically, we want people to think about the next five years, because that will be the lifespan of our QEP,” she explained. “We want all of our constituencies to tell us what Maryville College can implement, in terms of student learning, that will be transformative for students enrolled from 2014 until our bicentennial in 2019 and beyond.”

Not only will the feedback be helpful in determining direction, broad-based participation in the development of the QEP is a requirement of SACS.

The QEP Development Committee will gather possible themes and topics through late February. In early March, members will begin to narrow topics and gather further feedback on the narrowed group of themes. In mid-March, Bruce said she hopes the committee will be ready to send three top themes to the SACS Leadership Team, which will be responsible for choosing the final QEP theme.

“We see the QEP as an opportunity to develop a great new learning experience for our students that really addresses their needs, both currently but also in their future lives and careers – something that could be another hallmark of Maryville College, like the Senior Study, which embodies our mission and educational goals,” she said. “We want to know from our students, their parents, our faculty and staff, and all members of our community – What are we missing? What can we be doing better? What can we do, in a way that is true to who and what Maryville College is, that will have a lasting impact on our students and the College?”

An email account has been set up for the project and, in addition to the online survey, people can send their ideas for Maryville College’s QEP theme to

For more information, contact Bruce at 865.981.8277.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.