Edison College leaders respond to concerns raised by accrediting body

Dudley Goodlette, Edison State College interim president, on NewsMakers 1-29-12.

Dudley Goodlette, Edison State College interim president, on NewsMakers 1-29-12.

Edison State College has submitted its response to concerns raised by its accrediting body — the school’s last chance to try to secure reaccreditation and avoid sanctions.

Now, Edison’s leaders can only wait to hear back from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, optimistic that the steps they have taken have corrected the school’s issues.

School officials last week sent the commission a more than 80-page report detailing changes made to address 14 areas — ranging from integrity of academic programs to qualifications of academic officers — in which Edison was out of compliance with SACS’ standards. The areas of noncompliance and recommendations for correction were identified in November, when a SACS committee visited campus.

The school’s leaders say they’re confident that the many changes outlined in the report, which was released Monday, will keep Edison from losing its accreditation.

“I think we’ve responded to each of the 14 items or issues that they identified,” interim President Dudley Goodlette said. “And I have every reason to believe Edison’s accreditation is not in jeopardy.”

In its response, the college states that it “recognizes the scope and severity of the 14 recommendations” and is “committed to restoring integrity to its academic programs through new and existing processes, procedures and policies.”

It breaks down each recommendation and outlines modifications made to remedy it. Among those changes: the implementation of a new process for course substitutions to catch inappropriate course-swapping; completion of ethical training to avoid future failures to report accurate information to SACS; review of the college’s organizational structure and all college operating procedures; and hiring of additional full-time faculty. Those modifications were spearheaded by faculty- and staff-comprised committees that addressed each recommendation.

Also mentioned in the report as corrective actions are several significant personnel changes, including the terminations of former President Kenneth Walker, former vice presidents Steve Atkins and Robert Beeson and the governor’s appointments of five new trustees.

SACS’ board of trustees will meet in June to review the changes and determine whether they put Edison into compliance. At that time, the commission can affirm or revoke reaccreditation. It can also place the college on sanction, under which administrators would provide reports to show what was being done to put the college into compliance.

Neither Goodlette nor Trustees Chairwoman Ann Berlam would speculate that Edison would escape sanctions. But both said they don’t expect the school to lose its accreditation.

“I can tell you that I have no fear and no concerns that we won’t be reaccredited,” Berlam said. “That has not entered my mind.”

To view the 80-page report in its entirety, visit www.edison.edu/accreditation/response/

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