By Rosetta Miller Perry
When Tennessee State University learned it had been placed on probation for not providing enough documentation in a fifth-year report to its accrediting body, the institution took swift action and deployed a comprehensive approach to address the issue. TSU is currently in the process of hiring a Director of Accreditation and Assessment. In addition to working
with President Glover, this individual will also work with an external consultant, who is an expert on accreditation matters, including the accreditation standard that the institution is addressing.
“One of the first things I did immediately, after being notified, was to communicate with the students, employees and alumni about what the issue was, but most importantly to address concerns and dispel misinformation,” said TSU President Glenda Glover
One of the first priorities for Dr. Glover was assuring the TSU family that the 107-year-old institution was not in jeopardy of closing or losing its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The president met with student leaders and reassured them that TSU was still an accredited university and degree programs were not impacted. A hotline was established on social media as a forum for students and others seeking additional information if they still had questions following several communications that were sent to the campus family.
Dr. Glover and the executive management team also fielded questions from alumni on a national conference call in mid-June. TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds facilitated the call.
“It went well,” said McReynolds. “President Glover answered a lot of the questions that alums had, and I think her bringing on the president of SACSCOC helped to alleviate some of the questions and concerns of alumni.”
She added that she’s keeping alumni informed about the accreditation issue, and that she’s pleased with the steps being taken to rectify it.
“I’m confident when we return the updated documentation, we’ll be able to get off probation,” said McReynolds.
President Glover added that transparency along with establishing a comprehensive plan has been crucial as she navigates TSU through this critical time.
The university was cited for not including enough detailed information on student outcomes to justify changes to the academic program. It was one aspect of the required standard out of the total of 25 standards submitted that flagged the probation. SACSCOC officials reported this particular standard is commonly flagged among universities.
In a show of higher education camaraderie, UT-Martin is assisting TSU in resolving the issue. It is the same standard the UT-M was cited for three years ago.
Dr. Belle Wheelan, president of SACSCOC, told alumni during the call that this is the most commonly sited standard for non-compliance. She further stated that TSU remains fully accredited during this period.
To correct the issue, Glover met with deans and academic department chairs, and outlined a plan for collecting the additional information. TSU will also be meeting with SACSCOC accreditor representatives in early July to address the single accreditation standard as well.
President Glover reinforced the importance of current and incoming students, parents and alumni continuing to have the right information about the current status of the university.
“The one-year probationary period the university has been given to address the standard will not affect TSU students, nor its faculty. This has no bearing on TSU’s solvency, academic programs, student progression, financial aid, or university operations.”
With all of the immediate steps taken and plans underway over the next few months, TSU has committed to meeting the standard and looks forward to be in good standing in the spring.
President Glover shared she is confident TSU will be successful in reversing the matter.