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A College Loses Accreditation

June 20, 2014

The college commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has voted to strip Brewton-Parker College of its accreditation, putting the institution's eligibility for federal financial aid -- and perhaps its future -- at risk.

The Georgia Baptist college had been on probation for the past year because of its failure to meet several of the Southern Association's requirements regarding financial stability and controls.

Under SACS rules, the institution can appeal the ruling to the commission, and Brewton-Parker said in a news release that it would do so.

“We are operationally in the black, our present budget is balanced, we project finishing this fiscal year in the black, and our Board of Trustees approved a balanced budget for 2014-2015,” President Ergun Caner said in a statement. He expressed confidence that “SACS leaders will take all of these changes into account and reconsider their ruling in our appeal this August.”

But the news release also indicated that college officials aren't taking their chances: Caner said he had instructed Brewton-Parker's lawyers to "file an appeal in the courts, challenging the finding of the SACS committee.”

SACS placed four other colleges on probation. They include three private nonprofit institutions -- Louisiana College, Newberry College, and Paine College -- along with South Carolina State University.

Louisiana College, which was placed on probation for a year, has been in and out of trouble with the accreditor in recent years amid a series of governance and other issues dating back a decade.

The most recent action cited the college for what SACS called an "integrity issue," as well as its failure to comply with the accreditor's standards regarding "external influence," personnel appointments, administrative staff evaluations, control of finances, and its administration of federal student aid funds.

The college appointed an interim president in April after moving its controversial leader, Joe Aguillard, into an emeritus role. The interim chief, Argile Smith, called the decision "disappointing" but an "opportunity for Louisiana College to address the issues in preparation for the arrival of a new president.”

For the other colleges placed on probation, financial problems were the primary cause. Newberry College, which was placed on probation for six months, had been on warning because of financial concerns, as had Paine College.

South Carolina State, one of numerous public historically black institutions that is facing financial difficulties, was cited by SACS for other issues as well. The accreditor said that the university fell short of its requirements concerning governing board conflicts of interest and board/administration structure, as well as financial stability and controls.

 

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