One of the country's six regional accrediting agencies risks losing its federal recognition if it is unable to alter its structure so that it is fully independent, financially and operationally, from its parent organization, the U.S. Education Department has warned.
Critics of for-profit higher education have of late drawn attention to what they see as a pattern of "accreditation shopping" in which for-profit entities purchase financially struggling nonprofit colleges, and then hold on to the regional accreditation that the nonprofit colleges had for years, even as the new owners expand or radically change the institutions' missions.
The accreditor of Dana College wants the world to know that it didn't revoke recognition of the college or order its closure. At the same time, the accreditor is standing by a decision that critics say is tantamount to ordering such a closure. And in an unusual move, the accreditor on Friday issued a public defense of its decision.
Like so many small private colleges, Dana College, a small Lutheran institution on the outskirts of Omaha, has long been precariously close to its death.
“I’ve worried about the college as long as I’ve known the college,” says Myrvin Christopherson, a 1961 alumnus who was Dana’s president from 1986 until 2005. During those 19 years, not only did he weather several years of budget deficits and a fire that destroyed the college’s Old Main, but he also increased the college’s endowment from $1 million to more than 10 times that. “It was always able to pull through.”
A conflict between the board and president at Daytona State College, in Florida, has caught the attention of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Now, after a faculty member complained that the board is overstepping its bounds and interfering with the college’s daily operations, the accreditor wants answers from the sparring parties.