Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools
|Timothy W. Eaton, Ph.D.|
|Ron Cannon, Vice President|
Tanmay Pramanik, Vice President
Barry Griffith, Vice President
James Flanagan, Commission Chair
Beth Ashburn, Commission Secretary
Gary Weier, Commission Treasurer
The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) is a national educational accreditation agency that focuses on Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries seeking collegiate accreditation in the United States. TRACS, which is based in Forest, Virginia, is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Despite the transnational in its name, almost all of the schools the organization reviews are located in the United States.
The organization was founded in 1979 to "promote the welfare, interests, and development of post-secondary institutions, whose mission is characterized by a distinctly Christian purpose." According to the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), TRACS is a "product of the ICR" and was created "Because of the prejudice against creation-science, outspoken creationist schools" that had "little or no chance of getting recognition through accreditation." TRACS requires all accredited schools to have a statement of faith that affirms "the inerrancy and historicity of the Bible" and "the divine work of non-evolutionary creation including persons in God's image".
TRACS's first application for federal recognition in 1987 was denied, but in 1991 under President George H. W. Bush, U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander "approved TRACS, despite his advisory panel's repeatedly recommending against recognition." Approval came following TRACS' third rejection by the board in which Secretary Alexander "arranged for an appeal hearing," and critics of the approval said the move was about politics. TRACS' approval "worried" accrediting officials who concluded that TRACS was not a qualified accreditor and the move was criticized by education officials.
Another source of criticism was the 1991 granting of accreditation to the Institute for Creation Research. One of TRACS' board members was Henry M. Morris, founder of ICR. Attorney Timothy Sandefur called Morris's position on the board "highly questionable". In 2007 John D. Morris, Henry Morris' son, asked TRACS to terminate the ICR's accreditation. The reason was, in part, that the ICR moved to Texas and the state did not recognize TRACS.
In 1993, Steve Levicoff published a book-length critical discussion of TRACS, When the TRACS Stop Short: An Evaluation and Critique of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Levicoff criticized TRACS's expedited accreditation of Liberty University and its creation of a category for schools which it called associate schools. While this category "was not considered an official accreditation," Levicoff argued that TRACS lent its name to a number of "blatantly fraudulent institutions." Liberty gained TRACS accreditation in September 1984, but resigned its accreditation on November 6, 2008.
In 1995, a federal review was conducted and National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity placed TRACS on 18 months probation. Critics argued that TRACS should have never had approval and the reason for the initial rejections "wasn't over doctrine, but whether they were in the process of accrediting schools which truly gave degrees in line with other similar degrees." One reason for the probation was TRACS starting the accrediting process for schools that could not meet basic requirements, such as Nashville Bible College, which was granted "accreditation candidate status" when it had twelve full-time students, seven part-time students, and two part-time faculty members. Improvements were made, including eliminating the "associate schools" category and changing chairmen.
It has authority for the "accreditation and preaccreditation ("Candidate" status) of postsecondary institutions in the United States that offer certificates, diplomas, and associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees, including institutions that offer distance education." Its most recent scheduled review for recognition was in 2016. TRACS was granted reauthorization after their latest appearance before NACIQI in August 2016. TRACS received this recognition from the same committee that revoked the largest accreditor’s recognition, and placed stipulations on the ABAs accreditation procedures.
- List of recognized accreditation associations of higher learning
- Higher education accreditation in the United States
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- Sandra Blakeslee (2007). "The ICR Graduates". Institute for Creation Research. Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- "Accreditation Standards" (PDF). Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-26. page 80 also see: "Biblical Creation. Special creation of the existing space-time universe and all its basic systems and kinds of organisms in the six literal days of the creation week." on page 81
- Scott Jaschik (Sep 4, 1991). "Alexander Grants Federal Recognition to Christian Accrediting Body" (A40). The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
- "Accrediting body angers secretary of education". Washington Times. Nov 7, 1991. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
- "Battle Lines Drawn on a College Diversity Debate". Philadelphia Inquirer. Oct 20, 1991. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
- Scott Jaschik (September 25, 1991). "House Panel Looks Into Recognition of Christian Accrediting Body" (A40). The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
- Sandefur, Timothy (March 29, 2004). "How the ICR got its accreditation". Panda's Thumb. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
- "Accreditation Commission Action" (PDF). Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- "The ICR Quest for Official Texas Certification". Texas Citizens for Science. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- "Accreditation Information". Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- Levicoff, Steve (1993). Name It and Frame It? (3rd ed.). Institute on Religion and Law. p. 25. ASIN B0006F1PCQ. OCLC 27784264.
- Scott Jaschik (1995-06-16). "Christian Accrediting Group Faulted in Federal Review". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
- Steve Levicoff, When the TRACS stop short : an evaluation and critique of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (Ambler, PA: Institute on Religion and Law, 1993).
- "Dinosaur TRACS: The Approaching Conflict between Establishment Clause Jurisprudence And College Accreditation Procedures". Archived from the original on December 5, 2003. Retrieved 2006-11-04. , Timothy Sandefur, Nexus law journal, Chapman University School of Law, March 24, 2002
- "Accreditation Details: Liberty University". United States Department of Education. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- "Commission Action November 2008" (PDF). Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. November 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- "National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity" (PDF). US Department of Education. 2016. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Transnational Association of Christian Colleges, official site