Showing posts with label SACS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SACS. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SACS satisfied with FAMU’s progress, lifts university’s probationary status

Earlier today, at its annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga., the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) lifted the 12-month probation status placed upon FAMU in December 2012. No further reports are required from the university.

“We are extremely pleased with the decision by SACSCOC to remove the probation sanction, which signifies that Florida A&M University is in compliance with the standards of the regional accrediting body,” said FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. “As a member institution of SACSCOC, we fully appreciate the peer review process and we are committed to continuing the work needed to maintain the high standards of the commission.”  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Robinson agrees to lead FAMU through Jan. 1, 2014

Yesterday, Interim President Larry Robinson answered affirmatively when the FAMU Board of Trustees unanimously asked him to lead the university through January 1, 2014.

“I just want to let you know that I really appreciate this vote of confidence,” Robinson said. “I will do what is needed to serve the legacy of Florida A&M University.”

Trustees Chairman Chuck Badger suspended the presidential search on March 15. The decision cleared the way for FAMU to focus on addressing the problems that led the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to place it on a one-year probation back in December of 2012.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rattlers remain divided over decision to reopen band director search

Back when he was a college student, Shelby Chipman dedicated himself to carrying the torch of legendary Marching 100 Director William P. Foster. He highstepped in the band as a Rattler student and then went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees, as Foster did.

For ten years, he led the Miami Central Rocket Marching Band and modeled its drills on Foster’s examples. He then returned to FAMU as a music professor and worked his way up to become the second-in-command behind Marching 100 Director Julian White, the man who had succeeded Foster.

So when FAMU’s interim administration turned Chipman down for the band directorship this year and opted to reopen the search, many Rattlers were outraged.

FAMU alumnus and former state senator Alfred “Al” Lawson directed very strong criticism against Interim President Larry Robinson. He suggested that the interim administration might be bending to outside pressures that are suspicious of Chipman simply because he was on the Marching 100's staff when the hazing death of band member Robert Champion took place in 2011.

“You should not let the politics of the band situation prevent a person of his caliber from getting the job,” Lawson told reporter Tampa Bay Times reporter Tia Mitchell.

But former FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries disagrees with Lawson. He thinks that Robinson made the right decision when he chose to reopen the search.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brogan lacks backbone to protect SUS from Scott

More than a year ago, Chancellor Frank Brogan should have told Gov. Rick Scott to stay in his lane and stop trying to control presidential employment decisions in the State University System of Florida (SUS). But Brogan continues to look the other way as Scott persists with his power grab at public universities.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is right to step in and do the hard work of fighting Scott. Brogan has zero commitment to protecting SUS schools from the political interference of the governor’s office.

Brogan was hired back in 2009 to help the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) repair its credibility problem with the state legislature. The BOG became a joke in Tallahassee after it sued the legislature for control of tuition-rates in 2007. The Florida Senate introduced a constitutional amendment to place the BOG under the lawmakers’ supervision. When Chancellor Mark Rosenberg appeared before a senate committee to speak against the measure, senators publicly ridiculed him. Rosenburg resigned soon after the embarrassing incident.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

SACS investigating Scott’s involvement in UF presidential search

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has placed some of the South's biggest research universities under closer scrutiny this year. The University of Virginia is currently on warning status. Now, SACS is investigating whether Gov. Rick Scott went too far in his recent involvement with a presidential decision at the University of Florida (UF).

Scott led the way in pleading for UF President Bernie Machen to rescind his resignation. Just four days before it was expected to hire a new leader, the UF Board of Trustees aborted a presidential search that is estimated to cost no less than $41,000. Machen will remain in charge.

Some UF faculty members are worried that Scott might have improperly interfered with the search process. According to Tampa Bay Times reporter Tia Mitchell: “UF faculty members have expressed concern that Scott was overstepping his authority and interfering in a decision that should be beyond his control.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SACS decision serious, but no cause for panic

Any time the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) puts a university on notice, it is serious business. But FAMU is already more than 50 percent finished fixing the key problems that SACS flagged as areas of concern. The decision to place FAMU on a one-year probation simply means that the university will need to provide thorough updates to the accrediting body as it completes its corrective plans.

Even though SACS did not name any specific university programs when it sanctioned FAMU, Interim President Larry Robinson told the Orlando Sentinel that he thinks the Marching 100 is a big concern for the accrediting body. FAMU will need to report back to SACS about what it’s doing to make sure that students are as safe as possible. It will also need to explain how it’s enforcing rules governing student eligibility for university events.

FAMU has already placed the Marching 100 on an indefinite suspension following the Nov. 19, 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. The university is also expanding the number of staffers who will work to fight hazing across the campus. They will include an anti-hazing special assistant to the president and additional personnel in the Office of Judicial Affairs who will adjudicate cases of alleged hazing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SACS places FAMU on one-year probation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) announced today that it will continue FAMU's accreditation and place the university on probation for a one-year period.

“It is important to emphasize that FAMU remains an accredited institution, even while under the probation sanction from SACSCOC,” said FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson. “We are committed to addressing the areas of concern, and ensuring that FAMU is compliant with all SACSCOC accreditation standards.  Our students will continue to receive a first-class education from FAMU.”

The decision from SACSCOC comes after a series of correspondence between SACSCOC and the university.  On June 25, 2012, SACSCOC sent a letter to FAMU seeking information regarding issues surfacing as a result of the November 19, 2011, hazing incident in Orlando. The areas of concern cited by SACSCOC were academic policies, student rights, control of finances, and institutional environment.

Friday, March 30, 2012

FAMU trustees run scared from Scott, reverse vote on committee

Today, FAMU trustees reversed one of their previous votes just days after Gov. Rick Scott pressured them to do so.

The FAMU board announced the appointment of an Anti-Hazing Committee on Feb. 9. The committee’s mission was to come up with “findings and recommendations to be presented to the FAMU Board of Trustees for consideration and approval.”

On March 23, trustees approved the committee’s request to change its mission from a policy recommendation committee to a fact-finding committee. The vote permitted the committee to operate without the public notice requirements of Florida’s Sunshine Law. Committee members asked for the change in order to help them work more quickly and meet the board’s deadline for its report.

Scott asked FAMU trustees to change their vote on March 27. He said he personally wanted the committee to do all of its work at open meetings.

"It is my hope that the Board of Trustees reconsiders its decision and reverses it,” Scott said in a letter to FAMU’s trustees.

FAMU Trustee Torey Alston introduced a motion at a conference call this afternoon that did exactly what the governor wanted. The motion passed with an 8-2 vote.

FAMU should expect no mercy from SACS if trustees cave to Scott

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) already told FAMU’s Board of Trustees in December that if they let Gov. Rick Scott boss them around, the university could lose its accreditation. That warning should have been enough. But obviously it wasn’t.

On Tuesday, Scott started strong-arming FAMU’s board to reverse its vote to let the newly-formed Anti-Hazing Committee meet in private. FAMU Chairman Solomon L. Badger, III has now scheduled a special board meeting to consider the governor’s request this afternoon.

"It is my hope that the Board of Trustees reconsiders its decision and reverses it,” Scott said in a letter to FAMU’s trustees.

SACS Comprehensive Standard 3.2.4 states that each member institution’s governing board must be “free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and [protect] the institution from such influence.”

SACS previously scolded Scott for trying to pressure FAMU trustees to suspend President James H. Ammons.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scott’s interference might cost FAMU its accreditation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says Gov. Rick Scott’s push to place FAMU President James H. Ammons on suspension could violate accreditation standards.

FAMU Chief of Staff Rosalind Fuse-Hall told the Tallahassee Democrat that SACS President Belle Wheelan communicated this message to the university on Friday morning. Wheelan will also write a letter to the Florida governor’s office with this same information.

SACS Standard 3.2.4 states that each member institution’s governing board must be “free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and [protect] the institution from such influence.”

The governor’s chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, defended his boss’ actions in the newspaper.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ammons team teaches others how to fix an accreditation mess

FAMU administrators were key presenters at the 2009 Atlanta conference this week on surviving a perfect storm and best practices for reaffirming accreditation.

The presentations took place at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), where FAMU accreditation’s was reaffirmed for another ten years.

On Sunday, December 6, FAMU President James H. Ammons; Chief of Staff Rosalind Fuse-Hall; Vice President for Administrative and Financial Services Teresa Hardee; and Vice President for Enterprise Information Technology Robert Seniors were asked to present on “Surviving a Perfect Storm.”

The session reviewed the steps taken by FAMU’s leadership team after arriving in July 2007. In describing the session, the conference materials noted, “…University Leadership team arrived in the middle of a perfect storm: dramatic board turnover, declining enrollment, huge fiscal challenges, and an impending SACSCOC visit, as well as an unexpected twister. Learn strategies employed to survive each challenge and lead the university to calm waters.”

The unexpected twister was being placed on probation for a year while completing the reaffirmation process.

Another session on Monday titled, “The Impact of Leadership and Teamwork During Reaffirmation” was presented by Shawnta Friday-Stroud, SACS Accreditation Liaison and interim dean of the School of Business and Industry; and Cynthia Hughes Harris, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. They discussed how the daunting task of coordinating, editing and submitting the compliance certification could be accomplished through “committed and passionate leadership and teamwork.”

“This was extraordinary progress, given that FAMU was on probation in March 2008,” the materials noted.

Maurice Edington, FAMU QEP director and associate professor of chemistry; Friday-Stroud; and Dreamal Worthen, associate professor in College of Engineering Science, Technology and Agriculture, presented a workshop on “Strategies for Achieving True Campuswide Engagement and Buy-in During the Development and Implementation of the QEP.” During this session, there was discussion on strategies used during QEP development. The team designed and implemented an aggressive marketing and publicity campaign directed toward key university stakeholders.

Valencia Matthews, assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences; Uche Ohia, director of university assessment; and Gita Pitter, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, presented on “Faculty as Change Agents in Reengineering an Institution’s General Education Outcomes and Assessment.” The presentations addressed how to change the institutional culture and identify outcomes and instituting a new assessment system for general education.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

SACS reaffirms FAMU’s accreditation

The Florida A&M University’s accreditation has been reaffirmed for 10 more years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) today. The reaffirmation came with no strings attached --- no further reports required and no recommendations.

“We are proud of the work of our accrediting team and the campus community,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.

FAMU's re-accreditation was pushed back a year while the university addressed issues left over from the previous interim administration. With those issues fully addressed, the FAMU leadership team focused on preparing for the reaffirmation of accreditation from the SACSCOC.

“We had a very competent staff and we are pleased with the outcome,” said Bill Jennings, chair of the FAMU Board of Trustees. “This is yet another great milestone achieved under Dr. Ammons’ administration.”

FAMU has been accredited by the SACSCOC since 1935. FAMU achieved a significant first by becoming the first historically black institution to become a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Friday, March 13, 2009

FAMU impresses SACS site team


Excitement was in the air as members of the visiting team for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), applauded FAMU’s work in its effort to reaffirm its accreditation.

“In terms of the report, you should be very, very proud,” said Carol Z. Garrison, chair of the visiting team and president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “You knew what this process was all about — creating a stronger and better university.”

“I am very proud of your QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan),” she went on to say. “Overall the plan was well thought out and developed. I could feel all of the excitement around campus about it, even from the students. The biggest challenge will be channeling all of this excitement and making sure you remain focused.”

While the visiting team had two recommendations — one regarding the standards and one regarding QEP — the decision regarding whether FAMU’s accreditation will be reaffirmed will be made at the Commission’s December meeting in Atlanta, Ga., noted Joseph H. Silver, vice president of SACS-COC. He also pointed out that one out of a possible 77 compliance standards was not bad.

“I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “To be here with two recommendations is truly phenomenal.”

The recommendations were related to Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 and the QEP. Standard 3.7.1 deals with the “employment of competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution.”

The visiting committee found a relatively small number of professors who were not in compliance with Standard 3.7.1. But, the members expressed full confidence in FAMU’s ability to address the issue.

“You will have from now until December to address this,” Garrison said. “It may be a case of providing more information or evaluating the teaching assignments of a few individuals. I’m sure you will have your arms around it soon.”

Regarding the QEP, J. Patrick O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M University, said that the university needed to develop an annual program of assessment to measure the outcomes. O’Brien said this would provide the university with a mechanism to determine if changes need to be made and the overall impact of the QEP. He noted that the findings of the assessment should be communicated with the campus.

The five-year QEP, entitled "Enhancing Performance in Critical Thinking," was developed under the leadership of FAMU Chemistry Professor Maurice Edington. It grew out of a broad-based institutional process that identified key issues emerging from the campus assessment of the institution.

“We were able to work as a team and complete this process,” Ammons said. “We are here with only two recommendations because of a lot of sleepless nights and the dedication of faculty and staff. I am proud of this campus.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SACS site visit begins today

FAMU’s quest to reaffirm its accreditation is in the final stretch. An eight-person site visit team, representing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, arrives today.

The university held good standing with SACS every year until 2007, when deficient a Board of Trustees and poor administrative leadership resulted in probation. One year later, following a sweeping overhaul of FAMU’s board and a massive turn-around effort led by new President James Ammons, SACS lifted the sanction.

Part of the process includes a review of FAMU’s new Quality Enhancement Plan, developed under the direction of Chemistry Professor Maurice Edington (pictured on the right).

Edington said that the QEP focus on helping students strengthen their analytical skills.

"Managing your account, your checkbook requires critical thinking skills, particularly in a time of limited financial resources, how do you best utilize the resources available to you,” he stated. “So we want students to be able to learn to solve problems, process information and make informed decisions."

The SACS team will be in Tallahassee until Thursday.

The Rattlers are back!

How the accreditation mess began

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sun-Sentinel clings to outdated info on FAMU

The “Florida A&M University” profile on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s website seems to have missed almost every major FAMU story from the 2007-2008 school year.

In the online overview, the Sun-Sentinel states that “Audits conducted since 2003 have uncovered sloppy bookkeeping and mismanagement of nearly $40 million, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. An audit conducted in 2007 uncovered 35 additional instances of accounting errors.”


The profile makes no mention of the fact that President James Ammons and his fiscal team cleaned up the poorly managed financial books they inherited well enough to get the first unqualified state audit since 2006.


The profile then makes the completely outdated claim that: “Student enrollment, which climbed over 13,000 three years ago, is declining.”


As every reasonably informed newspaper in Florida understands, FAMU’s enrollment is actually increasing.


Upon entering office, Ammons restored the time-tested recruitment program that was shut down by his predecessor, Interim President Castell Bryant. Since then, enrollment has climbed back to 12,792 – up from the low of 10,987 during the Bryant years.


Additionally, the Sun-Sentinel’s profile gives the impression that FAMU is still on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, saying:

“In 2007, the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities put FAMU on probation, one step above losing its accreditation. Students at unaccredited schools are not eligible for federally funded financial aid and many schools will not accept the transfer credits.”


The page fails to mention that SACS lifted the probation six months ago.


While every news organization makes mistakes and oversights from time to time, the Sun-Sentinel’s failure to update this profile is inexcusable.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Report released on NCCU-New Birth controversy

The University of North Carolina General Administration and North Carolina Central University recently completed a joint report on their efforts to address challenges stemming from an unauthorized satellite campus that NCCU ran in Lithonia, Ga.

Here are some of the highlights:

The program was funded through tuition and fee charges and structured as a self-supporting activity. The majority of New Birth students used federal financial aid to meet their tuition and fee obligations. While state appropriations were not used to directly fund the New Birth Program, NCCU will reimburse the state for employee compensation and operating costs incurred in support of the New Birth Program by the NCCU Business Office, Registrar’s Office, and the Student Financial Aid Office.

State law stipulates that tuition rates for UNC institutions are to be set by the UNC Board of Governors, not inconsistent with action by the NC General Assembly. NCCU officials set a tuition rate that did not conform to state requirements and was not approved by the NCCU Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, or the General Assembly. For example, the 2007-08 tuition and fee rate charged to New Birth students was $296.10 per credit hour, whereas the approved tuition and fee rate for non-resident distance education students was $417.75 per credit hour.

Pending formal action by the SACS Commission on Colleges in December 2008, SACS President Belle Wheelan has also expressed her support for the teach-out plan submitted to SACS on September 19 and encouraged NCCU to move forward with its implementation.

The full report is available here.



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Florida media quiet about SACS’ validation of NCCU-New Birth degrees

One week has come and gone since the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed its seal of authenticity on all the degrees awarded by a North Carolina Central University satellite campus in Lithonia, Ga. Yet, you wouldn’t know it by reading or watching the news in Florida.

The St. Petersburg Times, Tallahassee Democrat, Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), and WCTV-6 (Tallahassee) all carried the original story concerning questions raised about whether the degrees were properly accredited. But now that those questions have been answered, none of those media organizations has said a word.

The NCCU satellite campus opened in fall 2004 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta. NCCU administrators shut down the program this year after discovering that it had not received approval from the university’s Board of Trustees, the University of North Carolina system or SACS.

FAMU President James Ammons, NCCU’s top executive when the campus was established, received an onslaught of negative publicity. However, Florida’s newspapers and television stations quickly lost interest in the issue once SACS confirmed that the campus did not violate accreditation guidelines.

This raises the question: Would the Florida media have remained silent if SACS ruled that the degrees were invalid?

The omission is particularly noticeable in the St. Petersburg Times, which had a field day when the story broke. Reporter Ron Matus wrote eight blog posts and a full-length news article about the matter, all suggesting that Ammons was in hot water. But once the issue took a turn for the better, Matus decided to ignore a basic lesson from Journalism 101: continue updating the public about a developing story.

It seems that Matus isn’t anxious to inform his newspaper’s readers that there was actually a positive outcome to the accreditation controversy. He’d rather just pretend like nothing even happened.

UPDATE: At 2:54 PM today, Ron Matus and Jeff Solocheck of The St. Petersburg Times' Gradebook blog both acknowledged RN's constructive criticism and updated their NCCU-New Birth coverage. Their blog post can be found here.

SACS validates NCCU-New Birth degrees

Ammons' FAMU support remains strong despite NCCU-New Birth flap

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

St. Pete Times funny pages: McDevitt asked about accountability

In an article covering North Carolina Central University’s unauthorized Lithonia, Ga. satellite campus, St. Petersburg Times reporter Ron Matus asked Board of Governors (BOG) Chairwoman Sheila McDevitt to comment. She, and the BOG’s official spokesman, both declined his request.

Matus was quick to approach McDevitt about a mistake made during President James Ammons’ watch at NCCU. However, he has yet to ask any tough questions about why she, as former BOG vice-chairwoman failed to hold former FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant accountable.

McDevitt consistently rallied to Bryant’s side despite the qualified state audits, misspent millions, and payroll meltdown that landed FAMU on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In 2006, when FAMUans protested Bryant’s decision to fire the SBI 8 in violation of the university's collective bargaining agreement, McDevitt told Rattler Country to just shut up and back the university’s interim head, saying:

“No interim president can do a good job if they don’t have the support of their board of trustees. An interim is there to clean up a mess, and you’ve got to have support. So why don’t you rally around that person? I’m just kind of shocked about what’s going on. ... They’re in all kinds of a swirl.”

McDevitt’s comments elicited a sharp editorial response from Capital Outlook Publisher Roosevelt Wilson, who took her to task for ignoring the seriousness of Bryant’s recklessness actions.

Simply put, McDevitt has no credibility to speak on the issue of academic accountability. Her refusal to reign in Bryant almost cost FAMU its accreditation.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Rattlers are back !

On his first day in office, Florida A&M University President Dr. James Ammons asked the FAMU family of alumni, students, faculty and staff for 500 days to resolve the university’s nagging fiscal matters, pending accreditation suspension and a flurry of personnel problems.

Nearly 365 days later, Ammons has overcome his greatest challenge yet, regaining full accreditation for the largest historically Black university in the nation. Thursday morning, the accrediting board, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), lifted probation after a final vote.

FAMU’s accreditation woes surfaced last summer after Rattlers endured more than "300 days of living hell" during the Castell Bryant regime which saw state audits cited university financial records that could not be verified, questionable contracting (who could forget KPMG and the university's inability to account for millions of dollars.

A new day
This summer, James Ammons has, SACS is singing a different tune.

“We are very proud of and excited for FAMU for all of their hard work to come into compliance with the commission’s standards; and therefore, get off of probation,” said SACS president, Dr. Belle S. Wheelan.

“This is a great day for FAMU and the state of Florida,” said Ammons. “We have been able to solve and address the critical issues that threatened the very existence of this university. Our intent was to restore the public’s trust in the university’s ability to handle its finances and I believe this entire process has sent a strong and clear message to the state and our stakeholders that FAMU is in good hands.”

Ammons said the SACS decision is “providing us with such a sense of relief, now we can look boldly toward the future. Lifting of the probation will now free administrators to use their creativity to chart a course for growth that could see FAMU's enrollment go from its current 11,000 to 15,000 students."

The "dark clouds" may have gathered, but the sun has broken through and is shining on the Hill once again.

The FAMU legacy has been preserved. Look out America, The Rattlers are back!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

SACS votes to lift FAMU probation

Florida A&M University is back in good standing.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges announced today it was taking FAMU off probation – a clear sign FAMU has gotten past the fiscal problems that have dogged it for years and that its accreditation status is solid.

SACS put FAMU on probation last year after its Commission on Colleges determined FAMU was failing to comply with 10 accrediting standards for financial accountability and leadership.