University accredited for technology initiative

Despite construction blemishes and housing hassles, the University of Miami has recently received praise from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

SACS representatives, which comprises provosts, deans and departments heads at other schools, visited the university for their accreditation visit March 25 and found the school to be “cutting edge” based on new programs that are being developed.

To be accredited by SACS, an institution must show signs of self-improvement, said Krizia Giambanco, a UM senior and liaison for the SACS planning committee.

To fill the improvement requirement, UM has developed “Communication Across the Curriculum,” a 10-year program focused on promoting technology in the classroom. The program was planned with input from students, faculty and potential employers for the university’s graduates.

The budget for the new program is more than $17 million, and it has already been used to finance the renovations in the Whitten Learning Center and Dooley Memorial classrooms.

The budget will also fund Otto G. Richter Library enhancements, which will include a new information desk that will provide teaching and research skills and assistance with new media for faculty.

The university found that 74 percent of faculty would prefer computers built into their classrooms and 68 percent would prefer DVD players. With more technology in the classroom, the university may also look into adding more general education requirements that will call for increased technology use in the classroom, said Assistant Provost Andy Gomez.

The program’s other initiatives are geared toward improving the university’s oral and writing programs. These goals are secondary to the technology initiatives.

Pilot programs for the development of oral skills are planned to begin in 2010. The university hopes to have 60 to 90 students enrolled. The Office of Accreditation and Assessment will monitor the progress of these programs.

SACS approved of the new program, but criticized the university for being too ambitious, Gomez said. Representatives suggested that they narrow their focus to a five-year technology program.

“The university is never going to get 50 to 100 percent of the teachers to incorporate technology,” Gomez said. “But if we get enough new media to get to 20 to 25 percent in the next five years I consider that a victory.”

University administrators said SACS cannot comment on the accreditation review, but a report will be issued in a few months.

Edward Fishman may be contacted at

South Association of Colleges and Schools

Jurisdiction covers 11 states

Every 10 years, a school in its jurisdiction receives an official visit

There are five other organizations that cover the rest of the country

The University of Miami has been preparing for the SACS visit for three and a half years

The SACS review does not have an effect on the university’s rankings

Schools reviewed by SACS range from elementary schools to for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix