The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed Florida A&M on probation for a 12-month period in December 2012.
SACS took action after reviewing materials submitted by the university regarding the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. The university had incomplete audit summaries regarding the aftermath and reporting of the hazing incident on Nov. 19, 2011.
SACS Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) has cited FAMU for failure to comply with four accreditation standards. The standards are the principle of integrity, qualified administrative/academic officers, control of finances and institutional environment.
Although the university is on probation, it remains accredited.
“I want to emphasize that we are accredited by the institution, and all of our academic programs are as good today as they were last week and will continue to be so,” said Interim President Larry Robinson, addressing the SACS concern via YouTube.
Robinson has the primary responsibility to ensure the university maintains its accreditation.
“I want to also assure you that our team will be working very hard for the next several weeks and months to address the issues raised by the Southern Association (of Colleges and Schools),” Robinson said.
According to FAMU’s Office of Communications, the university expects to demonstrate conformity within the twelve-month period of probation while informing the community of each initiative taken.
“The Office of Communications has and will continue to keep the FAMU community, alumni and stakeholders updated regarding the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College,” said Sharon Saunders, chief communications officer.
If SACS still has concerns after this probationary period, it will ask for a monitoring report for up to another 12 months. The administration and board of trustees are taking the proper precautions to address the areas of concern.
“In fall 2013, a special committee will conduct an on-site evaluation of its compliance with the Principles of Accreditation,” Saunders said. “The next review of SACS by the FAMU board of trustees will occur in December 2013.”
Some students have expressed concern with this issue, as it had been rumored that this would affect their financial aid and future employment.
However, the decision does not affect students’ money as long as the university remains accredited by SACS and is still recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the SACS accreditation process, students will continue to be offered and awarded federal financial aid if they are eligible.
According to a board of trustees report, a FAMU degree will be just as valid as it was before the probationary period. The SACS-COC sanction did not arise from concerns about the quality of the university’s educational programs. Therefore, FAMU graduates will remain highly competitive for employment.
Student Government Association Sen. Anthony Siders supports the administration in helping to update students on SACS.
“As I said times before, obstacles are only opportunities,” Siders said. “This is our chance to show our stuff. The student government is committed to supporting our administration in whatever way possible as we work to regain the full confidence of the commission.”