SACS expands investigation again, adds possible violations

By on July 12, 2017
Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, SACS, accreditation

By Shelby Brown–

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, U of L’s accrediting body, added two more possible violations onto U of L’s growing list. There are now nine possible violations of SACS standards.

A July 5 letter from SACS President Belle Whelan cited possible conflicts of interest and questioned the qualifications of some administrators. Those possible violations emerged from the June 8 Alvarez & Marsal audit, which made damning allegations against U of L’s former president and his administration. U of L sent that audit to SACS.

Interim president Greg Postel said in an email blast the university is collecting conflict of interest forms, per SACS request, from trustees, university officers and interim officials.

The latest letter from SACS asked for “a complete roster of all current members of the U of L Board of Trustees and the U of L Foundation Board of Directors along with a biographical sketch or resume for each, and copies of all conflict of interest statements, signed and dated, submitted by Board members.” It also said the number of interim senior administrators, seven, was “significant” in regards to running the university.

“Our Office of Academic Planning and Accountability (OAPA) continues to work closely with SACS officials on the original issues, most of which had to do with board governance,” Postel said. “Our Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors have approved a memorandum of understanding that clarifies the relationship between these two organizations. They also have approved revised policies that will ensure clarity in the roles of each organization.”

SACS will meet with university board chair David Grissom, SACS liaison Connie Shumake and Postel in August.

“Based on those meetings, we will finalize our plan for the visit by the SACS team Sept. 19-21,” Postel said. That team will now investigate these new potential violations and those previous ones.

Depending what evidence of progress the committee finds, the university’s probation would be lifted, extended another year, or, it would lose its accreditation.  SACS Vice President Patricia Donat says that evidence is essential for U of L to avoid further punishment by SACS.

“(U of L must) provide evidence they’re implementing and enforcing new policies and procedures to address standards,” Donat said. “The principles themselves lay out expectations.”

Since being placed on probation with SACS December, U of L’s list of possible accreditation violations continues to grow. The possible violations, including these new ones, are:

  • Governing Board
  • CEO evaluation/selection
  • Conflict of interest
  • External influence
  • Board dismissal
  • Qualified administrative/academic officers
  • Institution-related entities
  • Financial Stability
  • Control of finances

A loss of accreditation would result in degrees from U of L devalued, students responsible for their debts, no financial aid and the NCAA would no longer be affiliated with the university.

Read the latest SACS letter here.

This story will be updated.

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  1. Pingback: Accrediting Body Adds Two More Potential Violations For U of L | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

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