January 10, 2017

Bevin calls foul on accreditation worries, SACS record implies otherwise

governor matt bevin

By Kyeland Jackson —

Correction (10:39p.m.), The Louisville Cardinal misquoted the governor in this story. His full quote was “SACS, the accrediting agency, has never, first of all, pulled the accreditation of a PUBLIC university ever.” The list of schools provided contains one junior college. The rest are private institutions. We regret the error.

Governor Matt Bevin said there was “zero” chance the University of Louisville’s accreditation could be stripped on a radio talk show Jan. 10.

Speaking with talk station 55KRC, Bevin said SACS has never removed a university’s accreditation.

“It was never in threat. They’re on probation, utterly unrelated to the tenets that lead to accreditation or the loss thereof. One of the women, she’s the head of women and gender studies at the University of Louisville, who you could – it’s probably hard to guess, but I’m thinking she’s liberal,” Bevin said, referring to professor Susan Jarosi who testified before the Kentucky Senate Jan. 5.

Jarosi and Student Government Association President Aaron Vance said the university’s accreditation, controlled by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is endangered by passage of Senate Bill 12. The bill would erase U of L’s Board of Trustees and appoint members picked by Bevin and vetted by the state government. Another bill, introduced Jan. 7, would grant Bevin power to remove other public university boards deemed dysfunctional.

“These are folks who have whipped this into a frenzy as a way to turn this into something political. They have used the University of Louisville as a political football. SACS, the accrediting agency, has never, first of all, pulled the accreditation of a public university ever. Ever. Let alone for something like this. There is no chance, SACS has made clear that what they’re on probation for is not violation of one of the four core tenets of accreditation.”

Evidence from SACS says otherwise.

“They (U of L) are on probation for one that’s called ‘governing board,’” SACS Coordinator of Communications and External Affairs Pamela Cravey said. “They’re on probation, it looks like, for four areas of non-compliance. And one of those are what we call our core requirements.”

That core requirement asks governing boards not be controlled by a minority of board members or organizations and interests separate from itself, and the presiding officer and voting majority not have questionable interests in the institution.

Twelve institutions have lost accreditation in the past 15 years. All institutions except the Lon Morris institution, a junior college, were private. Those agencies, and the years they lost accreditation, are:

Midcontinent University, Kentucky – 2014

Virginia Intermont College, Virginia – 2014

St. Paul’s College, Virginia – 2013

Florida Christian, Florida – 2013

Lon Morris College, Texas- 2012 Junior college

Paul Quinn College, Texas – 2011

Lambuth University, Tennessee – 2011

Hiwassee College, Georgia – 2008

St. Andrews Presbyterian College, North Carolina – 2007

Mary Holmes College, Mississippi – 2003

Morris Brown College, Georgia – 2003

Wood College, Mississippi – 2002

Virginia Intermont College foreclosed and was purchased by a firm currently attempting open another university. St. Andrews Presbyterian College and Florida Christian merged with other institutions.

U of L was placed on probation, usually the last step before an institution has accreditation removed, after Bevin’s executive orders restructured the board. Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit against Bevin’s order, calling it an overreach of power. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd agreed with Beshear, striking down Bevin’s order, but the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal Bevin filed after.

The Supreme Court hearings are expected to end by summer.

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