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HBCUs File Lawsuits Against Accrediting Agency

As one historically Black university resolves litigation with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, another, Hampton University, ignites a similar suit against the same agency to restore the reputation of what school officials call “a proven” pharmacy program.

Last week, Xavier University of Louisiana and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) amicably resolved a suit filed by Xavier in February to lift the probation imposed by the accrediting agency on Xavier’s College of Pharmacy.

Hampton University, located in Virginia, is seeking a similar reversal to the probation imposed by the council against its pharmacy school. With its accreditation and, with that, its ability to receive federal aid at stake, Hampton filed suit in U.S. District Court for the eastern district of Virginia last week to have the probation status rescinded and enjoin ACPE from revoking the pharmacy school’s accreditation status or taking any adverse action for two years.

In Xavier’s case, ACPE had faulted the pharmacy college for an inadequate number of faculty and officials questioned the information it had received about student rotations at clinics, pharmacies and hospitals, The Times-Picayune reported. Xavier refuted the council’s findings, arguing the information regarding pharmacy faculty was based on outdated reports and inaccurate forms submitted by a new employee.

Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University, told the Times-Picayune recent faculty hires resulted in the student-faculty ratio decreasing from 16-to-1 to 13-to-1. Xavier’s College of Pharmacy boasts more than 600 pharmacy students.

Warren Bell, spokesperson for Xavier, tells Diverse that both parties have agreed that no additional information regarding this matter would be publicly discussed “to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the accreditation process.”

As with the Xavier case, ACPE is claiming that Hampton lacks a sufficient number of pharmacy faculty to meet the school’s needs. However no specific number, quotas or deadlines were ever provided by the accrediting agency to Hampton to maintain its accreditation, school officials say.

Hampton’s pharmacy school is accredited through June 2009, and on probation through that period, although the school is compliant on 28 and a half of 30 standards, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit argues Hampton cannot realistically be expected to hire more faculty by then because prospective faculty are not likely to relocate mid-semester and the stigma of probation makes it that much more difficult to hire quality faculty members.

Hampton’s School of Pharmacy became fully accredited in June 2002. Until January 2009, the school has never been on probation. In Hampton’s June 2004 “Accreditation Action and Recommendation Report,” the accrediting council raised concerns with the inadequacy of faculty resources and the number of faculty vacancies at the school. After an onsite visit to Hampton in 2006, ACPE again expressed concerned about faculty quantity.

“I knew that they were concerned about faculty quantitative strength, but I didn’t anticipate that that concern would be parleyed in probation. The [overall] report was actually quite good,” said Dr. Hugh McLean, dean of pharmacy at Hampton University.

“Our students perform very well on the national exam. We have performed well over the years. If accrediting bodies are really interested in results, Hampton has proven that it can produce young people who are competitive at the national level,” Jarrett says.

The lawsuit also charges ACPE placed Hampton “on probation for alleged deficiencies that were smaller in scope and weight than those of other pharmacy programs at other institutions that remained fully accredited.”

“ACPE has offered no indication as to why the school’s situation has been deemed to be so egregious that the school is not being afforded at least one year” to demonstrate progress, the lawsuit states.

Messages left for ACPE officials in Chicago were not returned Tuesday.

Both Hampton University and Xavier’s pharmacy schools are major producers of Black pharmacy graduates.

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