Tuskegee Failed to Lift SACS Warning
Tuskegee University failed to lift the SACS Warning Notice. The warning was issued by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on Colleges. This agency accredits the university’s degree granting programs.
Last June, SACS placed Tuskegee under a warning notice. The notice was intended to last for one year. It gave the university twelve months to comply with requirements due under a five year review plan.
The university’s website downplayed the seriousness of the continued warning status. On June 17, a day after the SACS decision, Tuskegee posted an explanation citing “Board governance, the core requirement that triggered the warning has been satisfied.”
Last year the Board of Trustees ousted long-time Board Chairman, Charles Williams. Williams left the board after John Page was installed as chairman of the 135 year old school.
Also, the university stated that it expected it could be placed on warning notice status for an additional year.
“Tuskegee University was well aware that the warning from SACSCOC would likely continue for two years,” the school’s website states.
The university website does not mentioned that Tuskegee was “denied approval to offer the Master of Science in Environmental Science and the Master of Science in Environmental Management through its distant learning whereby over 50% of the program’s credits are offered.”
Neither did the university mention what will happened to the students currently enrolled in those programs. The online program that would offer over half of it’s credit hours to students is the linchpin of President Brian Johnson’s plan to increase enrollment from around 3200 to around 10,000 in the next few years.
Addressing the two masters degree granting programs, SACS stated: “The institution did not provide an acceptable plan and supporting documentation to ensure that it has the capability to comply with the following standards of the Principles of Accreditation as they relate to the substantive change.” The agency cited the following rules: Comprehensive Standard 220.127.116.11 (institutional effectiveness; educational programs), and Federal Requirement 4.9 (Definition of credit hour).
Most troubling in the warning notice given this year is the university’s “failure to comply with Comprehensive Standard 18.104.22.168 (Institutional effectiveness; educational programs), Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial stability), Comprehensive Standard 3.10.2 (Financial aid audits), and Federal Requirement 4.7 (Title IV Program responsibility) of the Principles.
Title IV is a term that refers to federal financial aid funds. Federal regulations state, among other things, that any federal funds disbursed to a student’s account in excess of allowable charges must be delivered to the student (or parent in case of an undergraduate PLUS loan).
Earlier this year, the Atlanta Tuskegee Alumni Club issued a vote of “no confidence” to both President Johnson and the Board of Trustees. The vote of “no confidence” expressed the Club’s belief that Johnson was incapable of navigating the university through the SACS inquiry.
According to one board member, Tuskegee still has “accounting and record-keeping methods that were in place when Booker T. Washington served as the school’s principal.” The board believes that by incorporating 21st century accounting methods they will be able to resolve the questions SACS raised about the university’s financial stability issues.
Frank H. Lee, a 1979 graduate from Tuskegee University said, “It is time to immediately begin the process to save and uphold the good name and brand of Mother Tuskegee. This is very serious and if Alumni continue to maintain a passive and unresponsive posture, we will fall prey to the forces that are failing the Tuskegee Brand, thereby lessening ‘The Pride of the Swift Growing South!'”
Lee noted that while “Alabama State University was successful in lifting the SACS warning they were under, B. J. ( Brian Johnson) could not pull it off. Let’s see what our Trustees say now!”