Although UTRGV addressed the 10 accreditation standards it did not meet in 2016, the university will remain on probation for one more year for failure to comply with a federal requirement about program responsibilities, an accreditation official says.
In an interview earlier today, Pamela Cravey, SACSCOC’s coordinator of Communications and External Affairs, told The Rider that UTRGV failed to comply with the agency’s Principles of Accreditation federal requirement 4.7, which is not one of the original 10 accreditation standards the university failed to meet.
Federal requirement 4.7 of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Principles of Accreditation states: “The institution is in compliance with its program responsibilities under Title IV of the most recent Higher Education Act as amended. (In reviewing the institution’s compliance with these program responsibilities, the Commission relies on documentation forwarded to it by the U.S. Department of Education.) (Title IV program responsibilities)”
Cravey said the information is forwarded to SACSCOC by the Education Department, “so it’s not anything that we are looking for, only if we hear from DOE that something is amiss and then we look into it.”
Earlier today, UTRGV President Guy Bailey emailed the campus community, informing it that the SACSCOC announced UTRGV will remain on probation for the next 12 months.
“It’s actually a timing issue,” Bailey said in a phone interview earlier today. “The problem is we did not have a current-year audit. … The SACSCOC Board did not have a current-year audit. The only one that they had was an old audit. The old audit had some transition issues on it.”
From Oct. 16 to 19, a SACSCOC special committee visited the UTRGV campuses to discuss the school’s probationary status.
In its report, the SACSCOC special committee notes that even though UTRGV did not violate federal requirement 4.7, without a current audit, there was no way to determine compliance with program responsibilities under Title IV.
However, the report also states that the committee “believes the institution is materially in compliance with program requirements for Title IV.
In Bailey’s email, he states that the school remains on probationary status “pending a SACSCOC review of the Statewide Single Audit for FY 2017 conducted by the Texas State Auditor’s Office.”
Patrick Gonzales, UTRGV’s associate vice president for University Marketing and Communications, told The Rider the audit, which started in July, is ongoing and a report won’t be available until February 2018.
The audit includes a federal compliance component, which focuses on an entity’s compliance with the provisions of laws, regulations and contracts for grants pertaining to federal awards, according to Gonzales.
A second component focuses on an entity’s financial information as part of the comprehensive annual financial report for the state and its schedule of expenditures of federal awards.
Asked how the audit and federal requirement 4.7 are related, Gonzales replied: “To show compliance to Title IV and the Higher Education Act, this single state audit has to be conducted. Whatever comes out on that audit reflects whether or not you are compliant with Title IV or the Higher Education Act.”
Once the audit report is released in February 2018, SACSCOC will review the results. However, UTRGV will remain on probation until December 2018.
Last year, 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 standards 3.4.4)
–Consortial relationships/contractual agreements (Comprehensive standards 3.4.7)
–Institutional credits for a degree (Comprehensive standards 3.5.2)
–Institutional credits for a graduate degree (Comprehensive standards 3.6.3)
–Financial aid audits (Comprehensive standards 3.10.2)
–Substantive change (Comprehensive standards 3.12.1)
–Advertising, Student Recruitment, and Representation of Accredited Status policy compliance, (Comprehensive standards 3.13)
–Publication of accreditation status (Comprehensive standards 3.14.1)
–Recruitment materials (Federal requirement 4.6)
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.
UTRGV will remain fully accredited throughout the probation period.
“I don’t have any concerns about our accreditation going forward,” Bailey said. “We’re accredited and I don’t think there’s any danger. … It’s just a technical timing issue that we’ll have resolved.”
SACSCOC will post a public disclosure statement on its website next Thursday, Cravey said. A full report on UTRGV’s probationary status will be available then.