The Louisville Cardinal

SACS: “sufficient factual information” U of L violating accreditation

Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, SACS, accreditation

By Kyeland Jackson —

In a May 25 letter to Interim President Greg Postel, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools President Belle Wheelan said there’s ample evidence U of L is violating accreditation standards.

SACS, U of L’s accrediting body, put the university on probation December 2016, claiming it violated four accreditation standards. After an investigation by Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon, Wheelan warned the university could be violating three more accreditation standards, demanding information on the findings.

Now, Wheelan says there seems to be “sufficient factual information” from that information of “significant noncompliance” with SACS standards. So Wheelan has expanded the scope of SACS’ special committee, asking they probe the university’s relationship with its foundation, U of L’s financial control and its financial stability when they visit the university September. The university posted the letter online here.

“After reviewing the material submitted, commission staff determined that there appears to be sufficient factual information supporting significant noncompliance with the Principles of Accreditation,” Wheelans’s letter said. “The Committee will review the specific standards cited above and may extend its initial focus if any evidence of additional accreditation-related compliance concerns comes to its attention”

That committee’s visit is Sept. 19-21, and the SACS board meets December to review U of L’s progress. Depending on results, SACS will either remove U of L from probation, extend the probation another year, or remove the university’s accreditation. Losing accreditation means academic degrees lose value, credits will not transfer from U of L, federal financial aid will not be available and the university cannot participate in the NCAA.

SACS Vice President Patricia Donat says to avoid further punishment by SACS, U of L must prove it’s changing.

“(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.”

Harmon’s December audit blasted the university, alleging dysfunction and questionable governance under former university president James Ramsey. Another audit by Chicago firm Alvarez and Marsal reported damning evidence against the University of Louisville Foundation, alleging the ULF loaned more than $50 million which likely won’t be returned, attempted to hide information from the public, sidestepped board members for financial deals and more.

In response, U of L extended the audit, fired Kathleen Smith, created a committee to investigate the audit and  the ULF Chief Financial Officer Jason Tomlinson is on “mutually agreed-upon” leave. The ULF Interim Executive Director Keith Sherman would not clarify conditions for Tomlinson’s leave, but says an interim would be hired to replace him in the meantime.

Wheelan’s  May 25 letter is below:

SACS Letter – May 25, Pg. 1

SACS Letter – May 25, Pg. 2

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