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Drake State Receives Initial SACS Accreditation


(Louisville, KY)  - Today, the Commission on Colleges, voted to grant initial candidacy status to Drake State Technical College. The Commission on Colleges is the regional accreditation body for the degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools commonly referred to as SACS.  The board made its decision based on the recommendations of a fact-finding committee which visited the college in September.


“Achieving initial SACS candidacy is certainly one of the most significant highlights of the college’s forty-nine year history," said Dr. Helen McAlpine, president of Drake State.  “We will continue pursuing full membership with SACS, adding to the national accreditation we have from the Council on Occupational Education.”


Drake State currently holds articulation agreements with Alabama A&M University and Athens State University.  However, achieving full accreditation by SACS will provide greater opportunity for transfer of credit hours to a wider range of four year colleges.


“This is a monumental accomplishment for Drake State and provides a tremendous educational benefit to our entire region,” says Dr. Mary Jane Caylor, District Eight Representative for the Alabama State Board of Education.  “We look forward to the new opportunities this will provide for the residents of our area.”


The standard accreditation process consists of three-steps – application, candidacy and accreditation.   In May of 2010, Drake State submitted its initial application for candidacy.  In June of 2010, SACS granted a candidacy visit to Drake State’s campus.  During the September 2010 visit, the seven member SACS Team was tasked with the job of verifying the thousands of pages of documentation presented in the application, interviewing faculty, staff and students and reviewing the general facilities of the college. The findings of this visit resulted in a favorable recommendation to advance the college to a vote by the SACS membership.  Today, the voting body publicly awarded initial candidacy status to the college.


“This is a great move in the right direction for J.F. Drake State Technical College,” Chancellor Freida Hill said. “I am extremely pleased with the hard work and effort Dr. McAlpine and her faculty and staff have put forth to get to this point in the accreditation process. I know that there is more work to be done and that the individuals at this institution will be successful in that as well,” she stated. “Our students are our most valuable asset and this initial accreditation is a major step in ensuring their success at Drake State and beyond.”

The process to achieve full accreditation requires an extensive amount of self discovery, planning and evaluation.  By advancing the college to the next step of the process, the visiting team confirmed that Drake State already has in place many of the evaluation and planning mechanisms required for SACS accreditation. The college must now refine those processes and explain them in a manner which satisfies the rigorous standards implemented by SACS. 


Over the course of the next year, faculty, staff, and administrators will review the core proficiencies of the accreditation requirements and explain in narratives how they comply with the standards.  The college will again be reviewed by a team of professionals from SACS to determine if full membership can be recommended to the Commission on Colleges.


“We garner great satisfaction in what the college accomplishes each and every day in the lives of our students. They are the foundation of a highly skilled workforce. Our graduates are fulfilling our mission to enrich the lives of our students, intellectually, culturally, and economically – and that is why we exist.  We are delighted to have the opportunity to provide an even greater educational value to the graduates of our college through accreditation with SACS,” says McAlpine.

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