After Leading MSC Through an Intense
Self-Study Process, Barbara Frizzell Takes on New Challenges as
Interim VP for Academic Affairs
By Renee Pearman
Dr. Barbara Frizzell understands grace under pressure. After all,
she was co-director of Macon State College’s Self-Study, a
detailed internal examination of every aspect of the institution,
from its academic programs and student services to its facilities
and grounds and all that falls in between.
Dr. Barbara Frizzell, left is shown
on campus with Dr. Martha Wilson, who worked closely with
her on the MSC Institutional Self-Study.
The Self-Study took two years, involved 120 members of the College’s
faculty and staff serving on 30 committees and subcommittees, hours
of surveys and interviews, tons of paperwork, lots of coordination
and patience and the occasional sense of humor.
The result was a 460-page report presented to members of the visiting
team of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools (SACS). But more on that later.
Frizzell’s tireless devotion to the Self-Study assignment
- she was at the College working on the report last Christmas Eve
-- prepared her for her next role at Macon State, that of interim
vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty.
When Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood, the former dean, accepted a college
president’s position last spring, Macon State President David
A. Bell asked Frizzell to serve as interim VP.
“Dr. Frizzell is one of the most focused people I’ve
ever met,” Bell said. “When it was time to appoint an
interim chief academic officer, she was at the top of my list. Barbara
has demonstrated time and time again as an educator and administrator
that she can meet any challenge. I have every confidence she will
take that same concentration and energy and successfully guide Macon
State through its next phase of growth and development.”
Frizzell welcomed the opportunity with the same enthusiasm she
showed 28 years earlier when she accepted a part-time faculty position
in the College’s business division. She was a newcomer to
Central Georgia then, with an infant daughter. Five years later,
when her daughter started school, Frizzell joined the faculty as
a full-time instructor of economics.
Her career in education actually dates to 1962 when she was teaching
algebra and general math to ninth graders at a Pensacola, Fla.,
high school. From there she moved to Jacksonville University in
Jacksonville, Fla., teaching a course on money and banking, then
on to Macon.
She credits her high school algebra teacher for encouraging her
interest in math and her parents for getting her focused on higher
education. Jennings and Lucille Thomas always stressed the importance
of education to their daughters, Barbara and Priscilla. “With
my parents, it was never ‘if you go to college’ but
‘when you go to college,’” said Frizzell, who
has a bachelor’s degree in math, a master’s degree in
finance and economics, and an Ed.D. in business education.
A professor of economics, Frizzell continued to teach even as her
administrative duties at Macon State increased. In 1998, she was
named director of Institutional Effectiveness and later promoted
to associate vice president for Planning and Assessment.
Frizzell has a basic philosophy, which she always shares with students
on the first day of class: there are no shortcuts to learning.
“Success in the classroom, whether you are a student or a
teacher, means commitment of time and effort, good work habits,
a positive attitude and enthusiasm for what you are doing,”
said Frizzell, who in 1997 was named a Distinguished Professor for
Teaching and Learning by the University System of Georgia’s
Board of Regents.
That philosophy, which she not only preaches but practices, guided
her through the College’s Self Study procedure.
Born: In Foley Ala.
Education: B.S., math, Auburn University; M.A., finance
& economics, University of Florida; Ed.D., University
Career Highlights: Named a Distinguished Professor
of Teaching and Learning by the University System’s
Board of Regents in 1997. Appointed associate vice president
for Planning and Assessment in 2000. Oversaw Macon State’s
two-year self-study process for Southern Association of Colleges
and School reaccreditation. Appointed interim vice president
for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty in 2002.
Family: Daughters, Ashley, 29, an attorney in Dallas,
and Katie, 22, a recent graduate of Washington & Lee University
and a student at Mercer University’s School of Medicine.
Family pet, Maggie, a black and white “tuxedo”
Personal interests: Visiting and traveling with her
She said it: “There are no shortcuts to learning
“She was a very effective team leader,” said Dr. Linda
Cooper, professor of business and chair of the Self-Study’s
Committee on Educational Program. “Barbara is extremely well
organized, and she kept everyone on task. At the same time she was
very supportive of all committee members, and she was always available
And these qualities, Cooper said, are what make Frizzell “an
excellent choice” for Academic Affairs VP.
No one knows Frizzell’s qualifications as an academician
and administrator better than Dr. Martha Wilson, professor of English
and co-director of the MSC Institutional Self-Study. Besides being
colleagues for 18 years, Wilson and Frizzell worked side by side
during the grueling two-year Self Study process.
“Barbara understands our institution, our faculty and our
students,” said Wilson, who recently was appointed interim
associate vice president for Planning and Assessment, “and
she has the experience, the vision and the leadership necessary
to serve as our chief academic officer.”
Frizzell’s leadership was essential to the success of the
Self-Study, Wilson said.
“From the very beginning she set a tone of collegiality and
cooperation and established guidelines that would facilitate the
work required in such a comprehensive project. Her sustained commitment
to the project, her meticulous attention to detail and her ability
to elicit the best from others allowed the College to produce a
Self-Study that was thorough and accurate.”
Bell had asked Frizzell to lead the Institutional Self –Study
in the fall of 1999. One day after accepting the assignment, she
started work, selecting a co-director and establishing committees.
Within one month, her committees were moving at full steam.
Why is the Institutional Self-Study so important? SACS’ Commission
on Colleges is the accrediting body of the approximately 800 institutions
of higher education, including Macon State, located in the 11 southern
states in the U.S. and Latin America.
Every 10 years, a member institution must conduct an internal evaluation
in order to retain its accreditation status and membership in SACS.
Reaccredidation by SACS’ Commission on Colleges “signifies
that the college has a purpose appropriate to higher education and
has resources, programs and services sufficient to accomplish its
mission on a continuing basis,” Frizzell said.
The road to reaccredidation begins with an Institutional Self-Study.
Once that study is complete, it is mailed to members of SACS’
reaccredidation visiting team for a peer review. The team, whose
members are from other SACS member institutions, spent four days
at Macon State last February. The 12 educators had to verify all
statements in the Self Study, which they did through personal interviews
with faculty, staff, students, alumni, MSC Foundation trustees and
community leaders and by reviewing all documentation supporting
At the end of their visit, the team members prepared a report for
the Commission on Colleges. “There are more than 400 ‘must’
statements that we address in our Self- Study, and after verifying
all of those, the visiting team had only 12 recommendations, which
we began working on immediately,” Frizzell said.
“For example, during the Self-Study, we determined, and the
visiting team agreed, that we needed additional study rooms and
computer stations in our Library, that we needed to provide more
services for online students and that we needed more staff in our
Academic Advising Center. Each of the recommendations has been addressed,
and we’re also focused on expanding our services at our Warner
The Commission on Colleges has received the visiting team’s
report as well as Macon State’s response to the recommendations.
Affirmation of accreditation from the Commission is expected when
it meets in December.
“The results of the Self -Study showed that we are succeeding
where it matters most - in the classroom,” Frizzell said.
“Our educational program is excellent when evaluated in terms
of curriculum, instruction and completion requirements. And the
College also has reason to be proud of its faculty and their credentials.
In fact, one of the greatest strengths of Macon State is the quality
of its teaching faculty.”
And so with the next Self-Study some 10 years away, Frizzell may
have time to catch her breath before turning her full attention
to the College’s seven academic divisions, admissions, registrar
and financial aid offices, assessment and planning reports, academic
advising and resource centers, student support services, minority
student achievement, MSC’s off-campus sites . . .
Well, maybe not.