Questions of autonomy put college’s reaccreditation reaffirmation on hold

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SACSCOC letter stating what needs to be addressed is expected to arrive in early July.

By Wally Perez

This college’s reaffirmation of accreditation has been deferred for now, as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges board has questioned this college’s institutional autonomy.

President Robert Vela and Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer, this college’s liaison to SACSCOC, were notified Thursday of the situation after speaking to Patricia Donat, vice president of SACSCOC.

Vela informed faculty and staff in an email this morning, but he was unavailable for comment.

Rosenauer said the administration was expecting an update on the reaffirmation.

“Last week the board of directors of SACSCOC met, and reports were reviewed,” he said.

Donat informed Vela and Rosenauer in a brief phone call that the process would be put on hold for now, but she did not go into detail on what specifically the college needs to look at, Rosenauer said.

“We won’t know for sure what we need to work on until we receive the information in July,” Rosenauer said. “We didn’t get too much detail, Dr. Donat said it will all be forthcoming.”

Rosenauer said the report as a whole was deferred, not just some information out of it.

Rosenauer said it does not impact financial aid, the college’s current accreditation or Veterans Affairs in a negative way.

“We’ll get instructions or clarifications and prepare a response on some issues dealing primarily with the relationship of the schools in the district,” Rosenauer said.

Rosenauer compared the situation to turning in a term paper, then the professor hands the paper back and asks the student to rewrite a section.

“They just want some more information, and until we know what exactly that letter says, we won’t know what or how to address it,” Rosenauer said.

Rosenauer said if the update had come back positively and no issues were found, the reaffirmation would have gone into effect in September. Because of the deferment, the reaffirmation will go into effect in January, assuming concerns are addressed satisfactorily.

The SACSCOC board will look at the report again in December, Rosenauer said.

Rosenauer has been a part of the SACSCOC process since 1995 and has gone through three accreditation reaffirmations.

“None of the conversation came close to saying something to the order of mismanagement, lack of integrity or poor quality services,” Rosenauer said. “None of this had anything to do with the true mission of the college or the administration.”

Rosenauer said there is no doubt the college will receive reaccreditation and whatever the board wants addressed will be addressed.

“Dr. Donat was very careful to tell us that this was not an issue of jeopardy of our status, just an effort for the board to understand how we operate as a system,” Rosenauer said. “They’re not doubting our quality; they’re simply trying to square away on how we work.”




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