Morris Brown College's Appeal Is Denied

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The SACS Hearing Officer upheld the December 2002 decision to deny accreditation. This is not good news for the students, faculty/staff, alumni and friends of MBC. Will a statement be issued by the AMEC? Will MBC reapply for accreditation? Should MBC close? Many questions, few answers. Here is the press release. QED

COMMISSION ON COLLEGES APPEALS COMMITTEE UPHOLDS DECISION TO REMOVE ACCREDITATION OF MORRIS BROWN COLLEGE AND MARY HOLMES COLLEGE

ATLANTA (April 7, 2003) -- The Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools learned today that the Appeals Committee upheld its decision to remove the accreditation of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Mary Holmes College in West Point, Mississippi.

The COC had revoked both schoolsí accreditation in December for failure to meet the Commission's Criteria for Accreditation. In January, both institutions appealed the decision, temporarily reinstating their accredited probationary status while the Appeals Committee considered their cases.

According to COC policy, the Appeals Committee Ė which is comprised of elected presidents from accredited member institutions Ė may consider only two grounds for an institutional appeal:

1. Failure of the Commission to follow its procedures, which was significant in leading to the decision, and;

2. Evidence that the Commissionís decision was arbitrary, that is, was unreasonable and not based on the standards for continued accreditation.

The institution must provide evidence to support either of these claims against the Commission in order to win an appeal. The Appeals Committee cannot consider any new or remedial evidence, regardless of its nature or significance, as it judges the reasonableness of the Commissionís decision based on information made available to the Commission by the institution at the time the action was taken.

The Commissionís policies allow for no further appeal of this decision. Removal of accredited status is effective the date of the respective appeals hearing: April 1 for Mary Holmes College and April 2 for Morris Brown College .

An institution can reapply for membership at anytime, however, an application should be submitted only if and when an institution has corrected the deficiencies that caused its loss of accreditation. There have been institutions that have lost accreditation, have continued to operate, corrected the deficiencies, reapplied for membership, and regained their accreditation.

Institutions that do not meet the Commissionís minimum standards are placed on a probationary status that can last a maximum of two years. During this period, the COC offers numerous opportunities for assistance in helping them resolve their problems and maintaining their accreditation. However, it is the institutionís responsibility to take the initiative to solve these problems.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredits approximately 800 institutions of higher learning located in the eleven U.S. Southern states -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, as well as Latin America.

The Commission on Colleges is the recognized regional accrediting agency which is governed by a 77-member body, consisting primarily of university and college presidents representing a balanced mix of large, small, public, private and minority institutions. All accreditation decisions are made democratically by this body. It is the Commissionís duty to students and tax payers to be fair and objective in all decisions regarding accreditation.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 2003

Answers

A CNN report released yesterday indicates that the MBC Board of Trustees has accepted the resignation of college President Charles Taylor. Taylor was optimistic that the accreditation appeal would overturn the December 2002 decision by SACS. His failure to deliver on the hope of overturning the decision is the principal basis for his decision to resign. I'm deeply concerned about the future direction of MBC and other sister schools. The membership should be informed about the next SACS site visit for the remaining schools. As AMEs we have face difficult decisions about our institutions of higher learning. One thing we can ill afford is to behave like an ostrich and put our "heads in the sand" hoping the problem will go away. QED

-- Anonymous, April 16, 2003

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