The Importance of Peer Accountability
June 14, 2021
by Greg Henson, President
When people ask us about Kairos or Sioux Falls Seminary, I like to think we provide candid and transparent responses in which we describe some of the great things that God is doing in and through Kairos as well as share some of the areas in which we think we need to grow.
Every so often, we have the opportunity to see if the stories we tell are, in fact, what others see as well. The most significant of these opportunities are the reaccreditation visits that happen when a team of peers from other institutions spend several weeks reviewing our school's documents, processes, and finances while conducting interviews with staff, faculty, students, mentors, and board members.
Accreditation is an important part of what it means to be a school engaged in theological education because it provides a means by which we can continuously improve the work we do. More importantly, it allows us to practice peer accountability - something we think the Body of Christ is called to do.
Last week, we received the final report and recommendation from the team that visited the seminary in March 2021. The team represented the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditor that works with schools in a 19-state region. This includes local schools like Dakota Wesleyan University, Augustana University, and the University of Sioux Falls as well as schools like the University of Norte Dame and Ohio State University.
Here are a few excerpts from the report they wrote regarding Sioux Falls Seminary:
"SFS has experienced enrollment and financial growth in recent years because of the Kairos Project, which has become an educational philosophy that attracts partners in the United States and abroad. The visibility of the institution's mission is credited for this state of affairs. Commitment to the mission is also palpable from throughout the institution and all the groups interviewed testified to the central role the mission plays in guiding the operations of SFS.
SFS's posture towards its constituencies, its innovative approach to curriculum development and delivery, and its community involvement demonstrate a genuine desire to pursue the public good. This is also borne out in the way the institution values and welcomes partnerships and collaboration with other academic institutions. Whereas the institution's Statement of Strategic Direction identifies the need for partnership and collaboration, the modus operandi reveals a commitment to serve the wider public in providing theological education that is affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.
Further, SFS contributes to the public good through the ministry of Sioux Falls Psychological Services, which provides assessment and therapy for members of the community, while creating hands-on learning opportunities for students in the Master of Arts in Counseling program."
In closing, the Higher Learning Commission affirmed the accreditation of Sioux Falls Seminary and awarded the school with the highest honor that can be received during such a process - a full decade of accreditation without any follow-up reports.
In plain terms, that means that the team of peers who visited us in March also sees the good work God is doing in and through Kairos!