Tuskegee Failed to Lift SACS Warning

June 23, 2016 3 By Michael
SACS imposed another 1 year warning notice on Tuskegee University on June 16, 2016. Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

SACS imposed another 1 year warning notice on Tuskegee University on June 16, 2016. Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

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 3.3.1.1 (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 3.3.1.1 (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).

The iconic Shed in Alumni Bowl atTuskegee University where the school recorded the second highest attendance at its football games. This athletic records matches a two year warning status the university has received from SACS, its accreditation agency. Photo from Facebook

The iconic Shed in Cleve Abbott Alumni Bowl at Tuskegee University where the school recorded the second highest attendance of any HBCU at its football games for the second year in a row in 2015. This athletic record matches two consecutive years the university has been placed on  warning status by SACS, its accreditation agency.
Photo from Facebook

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.

Last year Tuskegee students staged a two day protest, They asked the Board of Trustees to fire President Brian Johnson. The Board declined to give into the student's demands.

Last year Tuskegee students staged a two day protest. They asked the Board of Trustees to fire President Brian Johnson. The Board declined to give into the student’s demands.

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!”

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.