The University College of the Cayman Islands is taking the next big step in its evolution.
A day-and-a-half event during the first week of January will kick off the university’s campaign to seek accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“I believe the institution is now ready to start the process,” said UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee. “It’s one that will help us to both elevate the quality of education at our institution and shine a light on what UCCI has to offer.”
Taking this move has been talked about in the past, but seeking such accreditation is an arduous task. McAfee said she and her administration are not taking it lightly.
Provost and Vice President J.D. Mosley-Matchett said there are other accreditations UCCI could pursue, but the international recognition a SACS affiliation offers is the best fit. Although she expects the initial application to be completed by the end of 2021, the complex accrediatation process is expected to take three to four years to complete, she said.
UCCI is already accredited with the Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities in the United Kingdom and the Kansas-based International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Membership in SACS would align UCCI with such schools as Georgia State University, Alabama State University and Florida International University. It would bring greater opportunity for collaboration between UCCI and such schools, including scholarly research.
McAfee stressed that it’s a chance to gain a higher profile for UCCI, but not to change the character of the university.
“We’re not becoming an American institution,” McAfee said. “We’re becoming a culturally relevant institution that meets international standards.”
The president said it will take the university’s staff and faulty working together in order to reach the desired goals. Every member of UCCI, she said, will play a role.
“It really does require everybody’s shared belief that this is the right step,” she said.
The process will begin Jan. 4, with a day and a half of tightly organized workshops designed to define the elements necessary for UCCI to meet the SACS requirements and establish a framework for achieving them. Groups of 10 faculty and staff members will tackle the 14 principles of SACS accreditation, from such things as operating with integrity and defining the school’s mission to institutional planning, educational policies, financial resources and transparency.
Not only will gaining accreditation bring important recognition to UCCI, McAfee said, but it will also allow the university grow from within.
“It helps us make better decisions about what our priorities are and how our resources should be used,” she said.
Along the way, she hopes the process will bring the campus together.
“Strengthening our campus community through a sense of shared purpose is maybe the best internal outcome,” she said. “It’s an exciting opportunity to see how each person will contribute to that.”