Published: Jun 28, 2010 5:29 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 28, 2010 2:32 PM EDT

AVE MARIA, Fla. -  The Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) announced that Ave Maria University (AMU) has officially been awarded “accredited membership” status and is now an accredited member of the COC. The announcement was made as part of the actions taken by the COC at its summer meeting held in Birmingham, Ala.

This distinction signifies that AMU meets the requirements and standards for accreditation published in the Principles of Accreditation and has been judged by its peers as worthy of membership in the Commission and Association. Membership will provide opportunities for the university to continue to grow and be eligible to further enhance and expand its programs to better serve its current and future students. SACS membership covers both the campus in Ave Maria, Fla., and the branch Latin American Campus in San Marcos, Nicaragua.

A division of the “Southern Association”, the COC accredits higher education institutions through a standardized multi-year application and review process designed to ensure that all member colleges and universities meet the requirements of the COC. The COC has awarded AMU membership and authorized the institution to grant accredited bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees.

Membership status is achieved after an institution of higher education completes both the pre-accreditation or “Candidacy” and “initial Accreditation” processes, which include: submitting an application; undergoing an internal review by members of the SACS staff; undergoing an independent third-party review by peer evaluators from COC-member institutions; being evaluated as evidencing compliance with the Core Requirements, applicable Comprehensive Standards and the Federal Requirements section of the Principles of Accreditation; and being judged by the Commission’s Compliance and Review Committee as compliant with the Principles.

AMU Founder and Chancellor, Thomas S. Monaghan, AMU President, Nicholas J. Healy and AMU Vice President for Academic Affairs, John E. Sites, received the news with excitement and appreciation.
“We have been looking forward to this day for many years,” Monaghan said. “As an institution of higher education, we set out to receive regional accreditation for the good of everyone associated with the university, and it is very gratifying to receive this recognition. I am also grateful for the cooperation and professionalism of all those at SACS who we worked with through every stage of this process. We are excited about what this means for our alumni and the entire university community, especially our students.” Monaghan continued, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and everyone at AMU, I want to thank and congratulate all the university personnel who worked so diligently to attain this milestone."