Posted by William Nunnelley on 2002-05-13

Samford University President Thomas E. Corts is one of 21 American educators named to participate in the Syrian-U.S. Partnerships in Higher Education Conference May 15-16 in Damascus, Syria.

Dr. Corts will travel to the Middle East as part of the Consortium for Global Education. Members of the group will meet with Syrian government and education officials for discussions of various aspects of higher education.

Corts will speak on accreditation in American universities. He is former president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools regional accrediting agency.

"The Government of Syria has just opened the door to the possibility of private universities," Corts said. "Heretofore, all universities in Syria were government-sponsored. This initiative has given rise to concern about how higher education is done in other parts of the world."

No accreditation system has been necessary previously because whatever the government funded was approved, Corts noted.

"Now, they are concerned that private universities meet some standards, and they are willing for public institutions to do likewise" he said.

Corts will discuss how accreditation works in the U.S., "where government has no direct role, but only an indirect role by approving the accrediting agencies but not individual institutions," he said.

The feeling is that "this is a significant way in which politics are kept out of the accreditation process," he added.

The group of American educators represents a cross-section of private and public universities.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.