News Archives

United Methodist-related college challenges accreditation removal

 


United Methodist-related college challenges accreditation removal

Dec. 13, 2004

By Linda Green*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -- A United Methodist-related college plans to appeal a pending decision to remove its accreditation.

Hiwassee College, a two-year, liberal arts institution in Madisonville, Tenn., received notification of a decision by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to remove the college from membership. The association took its action on Dec. 6, but the college is not expected to receive official notification until January.

"When official notification is received, the college will appeal the decision through the official SACS appeal process and take any other actions necessary," said the Rev. James Noseworthy, Hiwassee College president for the past 22 months. "We have made tremendous progress as an institution over the last several years and believe the SACS action is unjust."

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the accrediting body for institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Because Hiwassee is appealing the decision, any SACS action will be suspended until the appeals process is completed in March 2005.

According to Noseworthy, the SACS action is in response to fiscal concerns first raised by the association in 2000, when the college was placed on warning. Since then, college officials have worked extensively with SACS officials to address these concerns, meeting financial goals and developing long-term fiscal strategies.

"Hiwassee College has dealt with fiscal challenges for several years," he said. "There is no easily identifiable single event which led to our current challenge. All of my predecessors endeavored to do what they believed was best for the college," he said.

The policy statement of the Commission on Colleges, located on its website at www.sacs.org, requires that a member institution be in compliance with the accreditation and core requirements, comply with policies and procedures, and provide information requested by the commission in order to maintain membership and accreditation. When an institution fails to comply with these requirements, within a maximum two-year monitoring period, the commission may impose sanctions, the policy says.

"If the Commission determines that an institution’s progress is insufficient during the two-year monitoring period but not significant enough to impose a sanction, the Commission will advise the institution that if progress or compliance is insufficient at the time of its next formal review by the Commission, the institution could be placed on sanction or removed from membership. Failure to make adequate progress toward compliance at any time during the two-year period or failure to comply with the Principles at the conclusion of two years may result in Commission action to remove accreditation."

Hiwassee officials report that, during the past two years, the college has strengthened its academic programs, created a campus-wide computer network, enhanced classrooms, become a member of the Appalachian College Association, kept a balanced budget, increased annual support and developed strategies for continued growth.

"The decision is extremely disappointing in light of all the progress we have made," Noseworthy said. "We are better off financially than we have ever been in many years. In the past year alone, we increased our endowment by $1.5 million and improved our operating assets by $200,000. We have the grounds to build a very strong appeals case."

Offering support in the appeal is the Division of Higher Education of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Ken Yamada, a staff executive, expressed "deep regret and disappointment" over the decision of SACS to lift the college’s membership.

"The division will provide President Noseworthy and Hiwassee College all assistance necessary in the appeal and join him in exploring viable options," he said.

"One hundred and fifty five years of the history of Hiwassee College proves its unique and distinct accomplishments nurturing the powerful and dynamic leaders for the church and the world."  

The college will issue an update about appeal no later than March 2005, Noseworthy said. The college is also "exploring some promising options for accreditation partnerships. No matter what, we will do all within our power to ensure there will always be a place for the special mission Hiwassee College has faithfully served since 1849," he said.

The college reassures its constituents of the institution’s integrity, academic quality and the continued dedication to excellence as United Methodist-related two-year college.

"Hiwassee’s academic program is of the highest quality," Noseworthy said. "There is no issue with Hiwassee’s academic program or the integrity of the faculty or current college leadership. As we anticipate the start of the appeals process, the college remains fully accredited and students remain fully eligible for all financial aid."

As a church-related institution, he assures the United Methodist Church that the college takes its "relationship and mission seriously." He said the college remains focused on its central task and mission of 155 years: "providing quality, value-centered education for the young men and young women we are privileged to have as our students."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn. Portions of the article were adapted from a Dec. 9 release from Hiwassee College.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.