University of Louisville taken off probation with accrediting ag - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University of Louisville taken off probation with accrediting agency

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Grawemeyer Hall, University of Louisville campus Grawemeyer Hall, University of Louisville campus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –  After a year in limbo, the University of Louisville is no longer at risk of losing its accreditation.

The university’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges – commonly called SACS -- revoked U of L’s probationary status after a vote of the agency’s board at its annual meeting in Dallas on Tuesday.

The action removes a cloud that had been hanging over the university since June 2016, when Gov. Matt Bevin attempted to unilaterally dismiss U of L’s board of trustees.

SACS’ problems with U of L started with Bevin’s actions surrounding the board and were later expanded to include nine issues in all.  

Of all the turmoil the university has faced in the last two years, nothing has been more serious than uncertainty around its accreditation, which is the lifeblood of universities.

The value of U of L’s degrees hinges on accreditation, as does the school’s ability to accept federal student loan money, a crucial source of revenue.

U of L interim President Greg Postel has said the university fully addressed the problems through a combination of internal actions and bills passed in state legislature earlier this year.

SACS placed U of L on probation -- the most serious sanction short of revoking accreditation – in December 2016.

The probation was first prompted by Bevin’s dismissal of the board, as well Bevin’s “apparent involvement,” according to SACS, in negotiating the resignation of former U of L President James Ramsey, who agreed to a buyout that summer.

At the time, the board was divided over support for Ramsey, leading to quarreling at meetings. Bevin said he wanted to start over with a group of “more serious” people.

But Bevin’s actions ran afoul of SACS’ standards saying that board members are in control of the institution, and that they are afforded “due process” before being dismissed.

After a judge stopped Bevin’s board overhaul, the legislature remade the board in basically the same fashion that Bevin had proposed and passed a new law giving the governor powers to reorganize public university boards under certain circumstances.

SACS then added a number of other issues, such as the university’s lack of permanent leaders, control of its finances and its relationship with the troubled U of L Foundation.

In an interview in September, Postel said none of the SACS charges called into question “the quality of education, or the quality of research or patient care or the curriculum.”

“These are all administrative issues,” Postel said. “And so that’s the approach we’ve taken. We’ve cleaned up all the loose ends. We’ve documented everything, and it’s important to get it behind us.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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