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Monday May 16th

UNC maintains accreditation, placed on one-year probation

UNC must remedy seven accrediting standards

UNC's accrediting agency has placed the University on probation for one year while it continues to monitor the academic climate. 

The Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which grants UNC its accreditation status, made the decision at its biannual meeting on Thursday. In the coming weeks, SACSCOC will issue a letter to the University detailing the terms of the probation.

Chancellor Carol Folt stressed that the University will maintain its accreditation, and the probationary period will allow SACSCOC to ensure the more than 70 reforms implemented by her administration have brought UNC back into compliance with the organization's standards.

"There are people whose hearts have been feeling broken that all their work could be something that they can’t be proud of, and I am so proud of them," Folt said. "We are doing everything we can, and we are resting on the work of all who brought us here."

Probation is one step above a warning and one step away from loss of accreditation. SACSCOC usually places eight to 10 institutions on probation each year. 

Universities may be put on probation for no more than two years, after which the commission must make a final decision on the school's accreditation status. In the past 10 years, only six institutions have lost their accreditation status. 

The probationary period will not cause the University to lose federal grant money, which would occur if the University lost its accreditation. 

"The consequence is that it’s a black eye on the University," said SACSCOC president Belle Wheelan. "They have a shorter period of time to come into compliance than they would if they had been on warning. But it’s still a fully accredited institution. The degrees are still fine."

In November, SACSCOC cited 18 accreditation standards the University failed to comply with. Following the release of the Wainstein investigation, the University made a case for maintaining its accreditation in a 223-page report submitted to SACSCOC last January. 

At Thursday's meeting, the SACSCOC board accepted 11 of the responses. For the seven standards that were not accepted, the board requested more sufficient responses or more time to see the reforms take effect. 

"We have the utmost confidence in our present compliance and in the effectiveness of the many reforms implemented in recent years and will embrace the opportunity during the one-year period of probation to prove that even further," Folt said in a statement

Those seven standards concern academic integrity, program content, control of collegiate athletics, academic support services, the role of faculty governance and federal Title IV program responsibility. 

The University has nine months to issue a response, and the accrediting board will vote on UNC's accreditation status next June. SACSCOC may choose to take UNC off probation, extend the probationary period by another year or drop UNC's membership. 

Wheelan said she is pleased with the administration's response. 

“So far (the administration) has been very cooperative, and the board took that into consideration when they put them on sanction," Wheelan said. "They felt that this was something that the current administration inherited and that they had jumped right out there and done what they could to make it right.”

Folt said she expects members of SACSCOC to come to campus within the next year to evaluate the reforms made by the current administration. 

"They want to say, 'Let’s make sure this is still going. What is in place? Let’s verify it’s in place, it’s being taken seriously,'" Folt said. "That’s their job, and this is the mechanism through which they feel that they can do it because it also allows them to have a committee come here and talk to us face-to-face, which of course, we welcome that."

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misspelled Chancellor Carol Folt's name. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

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