Faculty Senate prepares for SACS accreditation visit

At Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, the senate addressed an update on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the status of enrollment at Florida A&M.

Maurice Edington, SACS accreditation liaison, informed the senate that the university is prepping for SACS visit Tuesday through Sept. 26. Edington, who is also the dean of the College of Science and Technology, said during this visit, SACS will review the university’s compliance with satisfactory academic progress for Title IV financial aid and exit counseling procedures.

According to a fact sheet provided by Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson Jr., under the SAP requirements, in order to receive Title IV financial aid, students must complete 67 percent of all attempted courses every year, graduate within the maximum time frame given to complete their degree programs and maintain good academic standing.

Edington told the senate that an audit in 2011 indicated that FAMU was giving aid to students who had not met the eligibility requirements.

“We had to go back and review every single student who had a SAP appeal approved for 2011,” he said. “And we had to self-identify whether or not we should have given money to those individual students.”

Edington added that a large number of students received aid who were not supposed to and that FAMU is working with the Department of Education to determine a repayment process.

In regards to exit counseling, Edington said when students leave the university, the university is required to provide students with information to help them understand their loan obligations and repayment options.

He said the university has had some issues demonstrating to SACS that they were providing that service within a 30-day window but that process is now improving.

“The financial aid office has been working to enhance their processes for distributing that information to their respective students,”Edington said.

Further along in the meeting, Rodner Wright, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, gave an enrollment update. He said 10,742 students are enrolled at FAMU, down by almost 1,247 students from a year ago, and that the drop in enrollment contributed to a loss of $1.5 million in tuition.

“That has a direct impact obviously on a lot of the things that we do and anticipate doing at the university this coming year,” Wright said.

He also said that performance-based funding was a major topic of discussion at the Florida Board of Governors meeting last week.

During that meeting, it was determined that FAMU will receive $869,565 of $20 million based upon three disbursement metrics developed by the board of governors.

The first metric is the percent of bachelor graduates employed and/or continuing their education further.

Wright said out of three points, FAMU only received one because many of its graduates move outside of Florida.

“There are some flawed data because the only access to data that they have is in Florida as opposed to those graduates who are employed outside of the state of Florida,” he said.

The second metric is the median average full-time wage of undergraduates employed in Florida one year after graduation. Wright said FAMU scored low on that portion as well because there is no adjustment to geographical location.

And lastly, the university scored zero on the third metric, which is average cost per undergraduate in the institution. Wright explained this as the cost FAMU pays for educating each student – $37,000.

“Largely because we tend to have smaller classes, we’re a smaller population, so it does cost more for us to administer the education than it does at many of the other institutions,” Wright said.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium.