SACS pleased with progress

A team recently visited Florida A&M University from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. During their visit they met with students, faculty, and other university administrators.

The team, which was made up of university officials from other universities in the Southern Region, visited for 3 days from Oct. 2-4.

The visit was spurred as a result university being placed on probation for violating 10 SACS standards for reaffirmation. Another factor was the 35 findings in the financial audit for the fiscal year ending June 2006, which the state auditor general conducts every two years.

Rosalind Fuse-Hall, chief of staff for the president, said the team met with the president, the president’s leadership team, the SACS leadership team, two members from the board of trustees and requested faculty and students.

“They had very strict rules,” Fuse-Hall said. “They only met with individuals they asked for. The only leeway we had was in picking the students.”

The team requested to meet with 15-20 undergraduate students and 10-15 graduate students from across the disciplines, Fuse-Hall said. They met with the team on the last day of their visit.

A few students said the member of the team that interviewed them just asked about what was going on in their respective college or school.

“They explained how of everything we had, it had never been an academic issue,” said Billy Helne, 25, a junior nursing student from Miami. “They wanted to know how the university’s probationary status was affecting us.”

He said he is working on his second degree, and feels the university is doing a good job.

“I’ve been able to not only go to school but I’ve also had an internship,” Helne said. “They [faculty] were making sure that we were ready to meet the requirements and demands of the community.”

Business student Courtney Maki said that for the most part there was a positive response from the students.

“Pretty much everyone said the teachers have remained strong,” said Maki, 22, a fifth year professional MBA student from Lansing, Mich.

She said the SACS team member asked how they felt about the new administration.

“With the Dr. Ammons here, morale around school has gone up,” Maki said. “It’s good to have a permanent president, who knows he is going to be here for some time. After he spoke at convocation, students said they felt more comforted.”

Maki also said the SACS committee asked about what changes the students would like to see. She said that the changes were mostly cosmetic, like new technology and refurbishing buildings.

Helne said he felt like the response students received from the team was positive.

“They [SACS] were really happy with what they saw,” Helne said.

Members of the SACS team seemed to have positive feedback as a result of their visit.

“In the three months since receipt of the notification, FAMU has made remarkable progress,” said Dr. Robert Gratz, chair of the on-site monitoring committee, in a press release from the university. “There has been taken a broad range of corrective action. The university has assembled a strong management team and there is also a strong campus-wide commitment to addressing the concerns. Now the new system only needs time to show its effectiveness.”?

When the team met with the leadership team at the end of their visit, Fuse-Hall said she felt confident about the outcome and said the administration has presented a strong case.

“They commended the staff for the extraordinary amount of work that has been accomplished in the short period of time since the university was notified of the probation,” Fuse-Hall said.

Fuse-Hall said the team reviewed the monitoring report, which the university submitted in early September, before they came to visit.

Next the team will submit a report to FAMU for the university president to correct factual errors only. The team will then submit the report to the SACS Review and Compliance Committee. Then they will make a final recommendation to the 72-member Commission on Colleges of SACS, which is also made up of university officials from the Southern region.

The commission will make a decision regarding the university’s probationary status during their annual meeting in December.

Joseph Silver, a member of the SACS staff, who joined the team on their visit to the university, declined to comment.