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Delta State University President Dr. John M. Hilpert recently completed a third and final term in the prestigious position of Chair of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), ending six years of leadership with the organization. The SACSCOC is the regional accrediting organization for eleven southern states stretching from Texas to Virginia. More than 800 colleges and universities are accredited by SACSCOC.
“It has been a privilege to serve the SACSCOC,” said Hilpert. “Accreditation is higher education’s self-regulatory process for assuring quality and providing an interface between institutions and the federal government. SACSCOC is seen as a leader among the regional accrediting commissions.”
Hilpert was elected to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees at the 2006 Annual Meeting and began serving in January 2007 as one of seven members elected from Mississippi. The 77 member Board of Trustees makes all decisions regarding the accreditation status of member institutions.
In January 2008 Hilpert became the head of the Mississippi Delegation and the state’s elected member on the 13-member Executive Council of SACSCOC. In January 2009 he was elected to a one-year term as Vice Chair of the Executive Council. In January 2010 he was elected Chair of the Executive Council and the Board of Trustees.
Hilpert served three terms as Chair (2010, 2011, and 2012) presiding over all meetings of the Executive Council and the Board of Trustees and the annual meetings of the College Delegate Assembly of more than 4,000 participants. He is one of only two Mississippi university presidents to hold the position with the educational accreditation agency, and joins the ranks of a very small number of people who have been elected for three one-year terms. The Executive Council meets three times per year and serves as the executive arm of the Board with responsibilities for overseeing policy, budgeting, programs, accreditation processes, projects, and personnel.
During Hilpert’s time as Chair, the board made accreditation decisions affecting all of its institutional members and managed the regular business of the organization. In addition, the Executive Council: (1) reviewed and revised the Principles of Accreditation; (2) purchased and renovated its headquarters building in Atlanta; (3) became independent from its accrediting partner, the group charged with overseeing elementary and secondary education; (4) adopted a new corporate logo; (5) succeeded in all legal challenges brought by institutions sanctioned by SACSCOC; (6) received a positive review by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Education; (7) regularly set records for the number of registrants at public events; (8) expanded staff and upgraded compensation packages; (9) restructured to deal with expanded federal requirements.
“It has been a pleasure to have Dr. John Hilpert serve as Chair for the past three terms,” said Commission President Dr. Belle S. Wheelan. “His knowledge of Commission policies and procedures, thoroughness in preparing for meetings, and genuine sense of humor have made it a joy to work with him,"
Founded in 1895, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is currently composed of the Council on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Commission on Colleges. The Commission on Colleges was founded in 1912 and was organized to develop standards and a process for accrediting colleges and universities in the South.