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Probationary Status Update SACSCOC site visit this month

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will visit the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses from Oct. 16 to 19 to discuss the yearlong probation. UTRGV was placed on probation in December 2016. Albert Monrroy/The Rider

Marine biology sophomore Samuel Cruz said he is uneasy about UTRGV’s probationary status. Cruz said he believes the university will lift the probation.

“Being a university, you should take pride in having the best opportunities for your students and being on probation just has a bad aura to it,” he said. “It’s not something you really want to be recognized for.”

A Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges site review committee will visit the UTRGV campuses from Oct. 16 through 19 to discuss what administrators they want to meet with and what type of information the university will need to provide.

SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.

In December 2016, SACSCOC placed UTRGV under a yearlong probation for failure to demonstrate compliance with several accreditation standards:

–Integrity (Principle 1.1)

–Acceptance of academic credits (Comprehensive standard 3.4.4)

–Consortial relationships/contractual agreements (Comprehensive standard 3.4.7)

–Institutional credits for a degree (Comprehensive standard 3.5.2)

–Institutional credits for a graduate degree (Comprehensive standard 3.6.3)

–Financial aid audits (Comprehensive standard 3.10.2)

–Substantive change (Comprehensive standard 3.12.1)

–Advertising, Student Recruitment and Representation of Accredited Status policy compliance (Comprehensive standard 3.13)

–Publication of accreditation status (Comprehensive standard 3.14.1)

–Recruitment materials (Federal requirement 4.6)

UTRGV President Guy Bailey told The Rider during a phone interview Sept. 25 that university officials successfully addressed each of these findings.

Bailey gives credit to the teamwork demonstrated by Deputy President Janna Arney, Deputy Provost Cynthia Brown and her staff, Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Maggie Hinojosa, and faculty and staff across the campuses, among others.

“We worked very hard on [resolving the issues] and we appreciate the cooperation SACSCOC staff has given us and the hard work people across campus have done,” he said.

He said students shouldn’t be worried about the probation.

“We think [SACSCOC] wants us off probation, too,” Bailey said. “They’ve been very positive in working with us. Of course, students, I’ve noticed a time of some anxiety. I think we’re in good shape right now.”

Arney said the campus community should be aware of the work UTRGV and SACSCOC have done to remove the status.

“We have been working in collaboration with [SACSCOC], every step of the way,” she said. “Their desire is to assist us, and our desire is to seek their guidance and assistance in working through the issues [and] identifying the probation letters, so that we reach a positive outcome of having the probation lifted.”

On March 27, The Rider reported that Arney said the UTRGV website needed to make adjustments in regard to the language on the school’s website.

“We have gone through and corrected Web pages that may have misrepresented our status with SACSCOC,” she said. “Those edits have been completed and that’s been done with the assistance of dozens and dozens of people across campus and led by our [University Marketing and Communications] team.”

Interim Provost Patricia McHatton said the university is looking forward to this month’s site visit and students should not be concerned about the probation.

“Clearly, none of our academic programs are in jeopardy, [and the] integrity of our programs was always there,” McHatton said.

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