A small Christian university in Cincinnati is in danger of losing accreditation after the Higher Learning Commission identified problems including its president holding three positions, posing a conflict of interest, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ron Heineman, president of Cincinnati Christian University, is also on the institution's Board of Trustees and was chief restructuring officer for its primary lender, Central Bank, the Enquirer reported. The Higher Learning Commission wrote that the president considered the bank's interests to "take precedence over institutional interests," and it could find no documentation laying out the university's relationship with the bank.
The accreditor placed Cincinnati Christian on show cause, effective June 27. That means the university has a year at most to prove its accreditation should be continued. Loss of accreditation is considered fatal for most colleges and universities because it would make them ineligible to receive federal financial aid dollars.
Heineman told the Enquirer in an interview that he is no longer serving as the university's chief restructuring officer and that the accreditor's report contained errors. However, he said the university is not in position to explain those errors to the public.
Previously, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Heineman with making misleading statements and omissions to auditors in 2009, when he was CEO of General Employment Enterprises, Inc. He settled without admitting guilt, paying the SEC $150,000.
The Higher Learning Commission found Cincinnati Christian does not meet several core components in its criteria for accreditation:
- Criterion Two, Core Component 2.A, "the institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff"
- Criterion Two, Core Component 2.C, "the governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity"
- Criterion Four, Core Component 4.B, "the institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs"
- Criterion Five, Core Component 5.A, "the institution's resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future"
Cincinnati Christian has until December 1 to show that it has addressed issues. An evaluation visit will take place no later than February. Then in June, the accreditor's board will make a decision on whether the show-cause order should be removed.
The university enrolled 678 undergraduates and 98 graduate students in the fall of 2018, according to federal data.