The 12 universities in the Southeastern Conference, with a tradition in intercollegiate athletics, are joining forces to strengthen academic programs at conference schools.
The presidents, chancellors and provosts from the 12 SEC institutions have created an organization named the Southeastern Conference Academic Consortium to coordinate efforts to bolster teaching, research, public service and other educational activities at the schools. SECAC is an adjunct to the SEC during its first year but eventually will be a separate entity with its own staff and budget.
The creation of SECAC puts the SEC in the forefront of a national trend in collegiate athletics toward greater emphasis on academic achievement, according to UGA President Michael F. Adams, chair of the SEC presidents and chancellors.
“This new organization is an important component of the SEC’s commitment to excellence in both athletics and academics,” Adams says. “It will provide the member institutions with a forum and mechanism to advance our collective academic goals. I am pleased to see the energy and effort demonstrated by the academic leadership of the universities in our conference.”
Participation in SECAC is voluntary, and all 12 member schools are supporting the consortium with financial contributions and by sharing information and working cooperatively to improve academics throughout the conference, according to SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
“This academic consortium will provide an opportunity for our schools to work together to enhance and share academic resources,” says Slive. “This consortium will operate parallel to, but separate from, the athletic side of the conference. Students will benefit by shared courses, library resources, research and facilities. In this way the conference will work together, not only to enhance athletic programs, but also to enhance academic resources in a cooperative environment involving not just athletics, but all aspects of the university.”
The Southeastern Conference, formed in 1933, includes the universities of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina, and Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt universities. The league sanctions championship play in nine men’s sports and 11 women’s sports. League headquarters are in Birmingham.
The SEC schools have adopted a memorandum of understanding that creates SECAC and sets out possible initiatives in several academic areas in which the schools may participate. The initiatives include study-abroad programs and joint purchasing agreements for library holdings.
The SECAC chair will be the provost at the university whose president or chancellor is the current SEC president. That makes UGA provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. the first SECAC chair.
“The first initiatives undertaken by SECAC cover areas that are central to the academic mission of each member school,” says Mace. “Not every school will participate in every initiative, but they have all agreed to be involved in one or more of these efforts. By working cooperatively, they will mutually enhance the academic strength of all the schools.”
In its first year SECAC is functioning as an arm of the SEC and Mace is organizing and coordinating its activities with assistance from an SEC staff member to handle administrative tasks. Plans are for the consortium to become a separate entity with a salaried executive director and a board of directors composed of the provosts at all member schools.