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Accreditor Punishes La. College for Board Upheaval

December 7, 2011
 

The college commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed two colleges on probation and imposed lesser sanctions against numerous others during its just-concluded meeting in Orlando -- with many of the accreditors' actions related to financial woes. A prominent exception is the commission's decision to impose a six-month probation on Our Lady of the Holy Cross, which was investigated outside the regular accreditation review cycle after the order of nuns that governs the nonprofit corporation that controls the college abruptly dismissed its Board of Regents and its president in August. SACS cited violations of several of its standards related to governance and external influence, said Belle S. Wheelan, the accreditor's president, who added, "We just don't know who's running the place right now." A spokesman for the college, Stephen Morgan, said the community of Marianite nuns had scuttled the board because the regents were deeply, and irreconcilably, divided over the performance of Holy Cross's former president, the Rev. Anthony De Conciliis. He said college officials were confident that they ultimately could explain to the Southern accreditor why the corporation board's actions were legitimate under SACS's policies on tiers of governance. Morgan acknowledged that the accreditor's action could affect the enrollment of students potentially transferring to Holy Cross.

In other actions at its meeting, the Southern accreditor placed Florida Christian College on probation, citing standards related to financial stability and resources. It also warned numerous other colleges because of concerns about their financial states and/or their overemphasis on part-time professors, including Edward Waters College, Fisk University, Fort Valley State University, Greensboro College, Lon Morris College, Louisiana College, Montreat College, Mount Olive College, Savannah State University, Stillman College, Texas State Technical College-Harlingen, and Virginia Intermont College.

The Southern accreditor also removed four institutions from probation: Bennett College for Women, Notre Dame Seminary (La.), Sul Ross State University, and the University of West Alabama, and dropped several institutions from warning status, including Barton, Brescia, Carson Newman, Criswell, and Miami Dade Colleges, Pamlico Community College, South Plains College, Tennessee State University and Texas A&M University-Commerce.

 
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