Knoxville College loses accreditation; accrediting agency warns University of Florida – Knoxville College, Tennessee

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools decided to remove
Knoxville College from membership in December because the college had
failed to comply with the association’s criteria related to adequate
financial resources, administrative processes and financial aid, said
James T. Rogers, executive director of the association.

“We don’t take this sort of action without a great deal of thought,” Rogers said.

Knoxville has appealed the decision, and retains its membership while the appeal is heard.

“While the college still has financial difficulties, we feel that
the progress that has been made over the past eighteen months or so was
adequate for the commission to have extended our probationary status,”
said Dr. Roland A. Harris Jr., president of Knoxville. “With a little
bit more time, even greater progress could have been made,” he said.

“We are not out here trying to stage a big fight or a media blitz,”
Harris said. “We want to demonstrate to the commission that the
decision should have been different and show an appeals commission that
progress has been made.”

Knoxville College, a historically Black college with an enrollment
of about 460 students, is affiliated with the United Presbyterian
Church. Its accreditation was probationary until the December meeting
of the accrediting board.

The accrediting agency’s Rogers said that the loss of accreditation
means “in general a loss of public confidence” as well as the loss of
all eligibility for federal financial aid funds.

Rogers said that the accrediting agency is “seeing the same
problems with many small private colleges.” With small budgets, he
said, it is becoming increasingly difficult for colleges to recruit and
retain quality faculty and keep technologically up-to-date. “All of
this is causing more problems,” he said.

Harris said that the loss of accreditation won’t have any immediate
effect “because as long as we are appealing we retain membership,
although the perception can be damning.”

He added, “We feel strongly that we can win an appeal, and if that happens we will be okay.”

Harris said that although the college has had serious financial
difficulties in the past, Knoxville finished last year with a $200,000
surplus, bringing its debt down to about $3 million.

“We want an opportunity to demonstrate that the progress we have
made so far is an indication of good things to come. We don’t want to
lose our membership.”

Knoxville is currently in a fundraising drive to raise $100,000 and
is holding a gala to celebrate the traditions of Knoxville as well as
participating in The College Fund/UNCF drive.

“We’re not letting the decision stop us,” Harris said.

In other actions, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
put several colleges, including the historically Black Edward Waters
College in Florida, on probation.

It also issued warnings to several other colleges, including the
University of Florida of Gainesville, which it cited for not meeting
accrediting criteria for institutional effectiveness and planning.

Dr. Elizabeth D. Capaldi, provost of University of Florida,
dismissed the warning as “mechanical,” saying that, “It’s not good, but
it’s not anything bad. We’re fully accredited.”

Capaldi said the university must “provide some information in a
different form from what we have before.” The university had catalogued
how it assessed students, “but not what we are assessing.” Such things
might include, she said, “Learning to think clearly, learning the facts
about psychology.”

Actions taken by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,
the regional accrediting agency of the South, at its December meeting.

REMOVED FROM MEMBERSHIP:

Knoxville College Tennessee

PLACED ON PROBATION:

Edward Waters College Florida
St. Andrews Presbyterian College North Carolina
Sue Bennett College Kentucky
East Coast Bible College North Carolina
Liberty University Virginia

GIVEN A WARNING:

Bevill State Community College Alabama
Holmes Community College Mississippi
Shelton State Community College Alabama
Texarkana College Texas
Texas A&M University - Texarkana Texas
University of Florida Gainesville Florida

Source: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

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