Tuskegee Faces Accreditation Issues

June 16, 2015 3 By Michael
Booker T. Washington with his back turned away from Kresge Center where Brian Johnson is dumbfounding  Washington's legacy.

Booker T. Washington keeping watch over the Kellogg Center as Trustees meet this weekend to discuss accreditation issues. Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey (c) 2011

Tuskegee University faces accreditation issues. Last week the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) gave the school a warning notice. Tuskegee’s embattled President Brian Johnson was told that documentation he supplied was inadequate. The requested information related to the five year plan that was submitted in 2014.

SACSCOC warned Tuskegee that if it does not receive the information within the next twelve month period, its accreditation may be in jeopardy.

The inadequate information was supplied during Johnson’s administration and has prompted some graduates of the school to question whether Johnson has the administrative ability to steer Tuskegee through the intense investigation  SACSCOC is known to conduct.

Johnson is entering the last month of his one year contract. He spent much of his time blogging on social media, attending student block parties and micro-managing every department in the university. His antics led to a student protest during the 2014-2015 academic school year. Students alleged that Johnson was out of touch with the campus community and was deceptive when asked direct questions about campus governance.

Also, a group of former students started a petition on Change.Org calling for the Board of Trustees to dump Johnson before he does further harm to the Tuskegee brand.

Momentum appears to be growing for Johnson to step down, as alumni learned that the popular adopt- a- dorm program failed to receive support from the president’s office.

Twenty-six years ago a dedicated group of Tuskegee graduates gave up much of their summer to travel to Tuskegee to renovate the various dormitories on campus. This project was also used to recruit students to Tuskegee, particularly from the Cleveland, Ohio area. This will be the first year in over a quarter century that the university will not get this assistance from former students.

Early efforts to get alumni involved in protecting the Tuskegee brand were futile. Many argued that pointing out problem with Johnson’s administrative ability only hurt the school. We now know that SACSCOC also has the same misgivings about Johnson’s administrative acumen.

The questions now become: Does Johnson know what the Tuskegee brand is? Can Johnson protect the Tuskegee brand? Does Johnson understand the complexities of a SACSCOC audit?

The Tuskegee Board of Trustees meets this weekend. Hopefully they will answer these questions. If the answer is no to any one of them, Johnson should be jettisoned and the university should look to replace him with an experienced administrator who has served as a university president.

There is an experienced administrator in the Tuskegee family, Dr. Luther Williams, who fits this bill. To hire him, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Charles Williams, will have to step down in order for the university to be in compliance with SACSCOC regulations.

All eyes are on the Kellogg Center this weekend. What happens there could be crucial to the university’s ability to avoid further sanctions from its accrediting agency.

Harold Michael Harvey, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” and “Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com