University of Virginia Faces Possible Sanctions from Accreditor
October 26th, 2012
By Jacqueline Foster, Editor
The University of Virginia, a highly ranked public research university in Charlottesville, Va., remains under scrutiny by its regional accreditor because of a failed attempt by the university’s governing board to oust the university president back in June, according to the Washington Post. The university’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), believes that some questions have gone unanswered about the ouster and may ask for more documentation from the university as to how the incident came about in order to ensure that the university is in compliance with the accreditor’s standards, the article explained. If the university is unable to satisfy SACS on the matter, it could face various sanctions, such as being placed on warning status, being placed on probation, or in an unlikely case, even losing its accreditation, the article noted.
The attempted ouster of University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan has made news headlines in recent months, with various news outlets reporting that only a handful of the university’s full board of regents wanted her to resign. In a June letter to the university, SACS asked for documentation from the university as to the board’s compliance with the accreditor’s standards for institutional integrity, governing board, and faculty role in governance.
In response, the university sent SACS a letter in September acknowledging that "the process leading to President Sullivan’s resignation was flawed, in that important university constituencies felt excluded from the substance and reasoning of the board’s concerns …" However, the letter maintained that the board was in full compliance with accreditation standards throughout the process of Sullivan’s resignation and subsequent reinstatement.
In response on Oct. 5, SACS said it would review the issue again in its December meeting, and pointed out that the university did not have a policy in place outlining the correct process for removing a university president, according to the Washington Post. SACS has again requested information from the university that must be submitted by Nov. 12. The board is currently considering a formal response to SACS, the Post article explained.
While best known for its traditional, campus-based programs, the University of Virginia also offers distance education options to its nontraditional students through its School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The School allows adult students to complete a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies through classes on evenings, weekends, and online. A selection of master’s degrees, graduate certificates, and undergraduate certificates can also be earned online at the University of Virginia.