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SACS Approves the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership

Clearwater, FL—On December 8, 2009 the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) announced that Clearwater Christian College is approved to award the Master of Education in Educational Leadership. This decision was made at the annual meeting held in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Gary Smith
Dr. Gary Smith, Chairman of Graduate Studies, commented on this approval. “Receiving SACS accreditation for the Master of Education in Educational Leadership is gratifying. SACS holds high standards of excellence, and this confirms that the graduate program offers quality and rigor.”

In April 2007, the Florida Department of Education granted CCC the authority to offer the graduate program. In June 2007, Clearwater submitted an application to SACS with the intention to offer graduate courses and programs with the first being a Master of Education in Educational Leadership through online education. This submission was accompanied by supporting documents affirming the validity of the request for substantive change, i.e., the offering of a new program on an advanced degree level. At the December 2007 SACS meeting, the commission announced its preliminary approval for Clearwater to offer graduate programs and to use online instruction as the primary delivery mode for both undergraduate and graduate courses and programs. Clearwater held the first M.Ed. classes during summer 2008.

The SACS Commission sent a substantive change committee to visit the campus in April 2009. During their visit, the committee interviewed undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administrators to learn more about Clearwater Christian College. The SACS accreditation requirements and standards for an institution such as CCC—an institution already accredited—call for careful scrutiny of how a new graduate level program will relate to the college’s mission and goals. The SACS decision on December 8 represents the final step for approval of the substantive change.

The M.Ed. in Educational Leadership is designed to prepare and equip teachers and administrators with the knowledge and skills to be effective educational administrators. In 2010, the program will be offered totally online with no residency requirements, allowing students world-wide the opportunity to pursue their graduate studies from CCC. At the May 2010 commencement, the first M.Ed. students will receive their degrees.

“The master’s degree in Educational leadership adds another dimension of learning and opportunity for the college and its graduates. Alumni and educators have been asking for a graduate program; this program answers their request. The quality of our undergrad education programs is mirrored on the graduate level: all of the graduate faculty have academic and experiential credentials,” said Dr. Mary Draper, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Clearwater Christian College received initial accreditation from SACS in 1984, then reaffirmation in 1989 and 1999. The college is currently undergoing another reaffirmation process and will be notified of the Commission’s decision at the December 2010 annual meeting. Mr. Eric Lovik, Director of Institutional Research and Clearwater’s SACS liaison, said, “The substantive change site visit earlier this year was a good experience that has helped us prepare for the upcoming reaffirmation site visit in February 2010. The work that we put into developing our self-study for the substantive change gave us an excellent foundation for the institutional compliance report that we submitted three months ago.”

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