SACS deadline approaches once again

University officials and students are confident that Florida A&M will get good marks when the accreditation commission renders its verdict in four weeks.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is evaluating FAMU and will make its final decision Dec. 2 for the university’s accreditation.  

SACS is an organization that accredits K-12 and post-secondary schools based on standards issued as outcome-driven, narrative questions directed to the institution’s SACS leadership team. 

SACS sends the school a set of 86 standards and the school must provide proof that it is in agreement with those standards, said Jackie Hightower, FAMU division of SACS coordinator.  Every ten years, SACS reaffirms institutions’ accreditation through this process.

The SACS leadership team issues 86 standards with which universities must comply and sends requests to prove universities are up to par.   Those standards include core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal regulations.  Among the university’s responses, two standards were questioned.  The university’s SACS division did not provide enough information to prove the university is in compliance with those standards.  

Hightower said those problems were addressed. Solid documents and evidence were submitted to SACS, she said.   

“I’m confident we provided them with information that proves the university in compliance,” Hightower said. 

After the responses were re-submitted, the council requested no further information. 

“To my knowledge, FAMU is in good standing with us,” said Tom Benberg, SACS chief of staff. They were removed from probation in June of 2008 because of governing board financial resources, qualified administrative and academic officers and audits.” 
FAMU is fully accredited.

“We are not on probation and we are not not-accredited,” said Cynthia Hughes-Harris, provost and vice president of academic affairs.  

According to the SACS Commission on Colleges Web site, an accredited institution is one that has met standards established by the higher education community and addresses the needs of society and students. 

FAMU is in its reaffirmation period during which the university is evaluated to determine whether it will retain its accreditation status.   

“FAMU was placed on probation in 2007 due to financial issues and unqualified audits, not because of the university’s academic programs,” Hightower said. “There were 10 standards out of compliance…there weren’t enough board members because some of the board of trustee members had resigned. 

New board members were approved in 2008; since then, FAMU has been removed from probation. 

Some students share Hightower’s confidence that FAMU is in good shape. 

“I think they’ll be accredited,” said Audrell Miller, a 19-year-old from Jacksonville. “I don’t see any problems with the school besides the way they manage money [in reference to financial aid].”  

Miller, a second-year nursing student, said the academic programs at FAMU are excellent, but FAMU should always strive to be better.   

“They seem slow at everything: paperwork and financial aid, and the attitudes of the staff could be improved,” Miller said. 

In December, members of the Commission on Colleges will meet at their annual conference and will deliver their conclusion on the reaffirmation of FAMU’s accreditation.




SACS timeline

June 2007- FAMU was placed on probation for 35 findings in the 2005-2006 operational audit and 13 findings in the financial audit.

January 2008- FAMU will maintain its accreditation, but the probationary status will extend to June 2008.

June 2008-The probationary status has been lifted.

March 2009- Out of 77 compliance issues, FAMU only missed one. The committee suggested two recommendations that were related to comprehensive standard 3.7.1, and issues with the Quality Enhancement Plan that deals with the employment of competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution.

March 2009- Ten School of Journalism and Graphic Design professors were laid off due to a lack of graduate degrees.