Texas State Technical College System recceived the go-ahead from its governing board late last week to pursue single accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The four colleges that make up the TSTC System — based in Waco, Sweetwater, Harlingen and Marshall — are currently all independently accredited by SACSCOC, which is the primary regional accrediting body through which most Texas colleges and universities are accredited.
But administrators said the shift to a single accreditation for the entire system will reduce administrative overhead and make the system more nimble in its ability to respond to growing demand for its services throughout out the state.
“TSTC is making this move to single accreditation to reduce operational redundancy among its four colleges, allow horizontal integration for better collaboration and improve its ability to respond to the local needs served by each campus,” Ellis Skinner, the chairman of TSTC's board, said in a statement.
Michael Reeser, the chancellor of the TSTC system, said he expects the transition, which is expected to be completed by September 2015, to save th system "hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in overhead costs."
As state lawmakers have put more of an emphasis on workforce development, and have tweaked high school standards accordingly, the technical colleges have seen an increase in demand.
"Given the growing skills gap for technically skilled workers in Texas and the nation, TSTC can reasonably expect the demand for our graduates to grow at a faster rate in the future than in this past" Reeser said in a statement. "Once we transition to a single accreditation, we will be better positioned to respond in a more consistent manner."
Moving to single accreditation has not always proven to be a simple process for Texas college systems.
When administrators at Alamo Colleges, a community college system in San Antonio, considered a shift to single accreditation five years ago, the idea met with backlash from the faculty at some of the colleges. The system's chancellor, Bruce Leslie, received a vote of “no confidence” from faculties at three of the system's five colleges, and ultimately dropped the idea.
Earlier this year, Leslie said of independent accreditation: "It is more difficult, it is more complex and it is more expensive to the taxpayer to have this model."
In announcing the move at TSTC, Reeser emphasized the efficiency single accreditation would allow.
"This change demonstrates that TSTC is serious about maximizing the benefits produced by public funds,” he said.