Accrediting Panel Places UVA on Warning After Failed Ouster

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DALLAS (AP) - An accrediting panel has placed the University of Virginia on warning following the Board of Visitors' failed attempt to oust the prestigious public school's president this summer.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools took action on Tuesday at its annual meeting in Dallas.

In an October letter to the school, the commission said it was examining whether the board acted with integrity in its attempt to remove President Teresa Sullivan. The association also was looking into whether U.Va. met standards for governing boards and the faculty's role in governance.

The university has argued that it fully complied with the principles of accreditation, state law and its own policies.

Sullivan was forced to resign in June, but was reinstated about two weeks later after a campus and community backlash.

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 University of Virginia
Message Regarding SACS Decision

To the University community:

As you know, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has been reviewing governance issues at the University since President Teresa A. Sullivan's resignation and subsequent reinstatement this past summer. SACSCOC announced today that it has placed the University of Virginia "on warning" for one year and will send a visiting team to Grounds in early 2013.

This action does not imply any criticism of the University's academic quality and programs, nor does it affect the institution's ability to receive federal aid, including financial aid and sponsored research.

According to SACSCOC, "An institution may be placed on Warning or Probation for noncompliance with any of the Core Requirements or significant noncompliance with the Comprehensive Standards. Additionally, an institution may be placed on Warning for failure to make timely and significant progress toward correcting the deficiencies that led to the finding of noncompliance with any of the Principles of Accreditation. An institution may also be placed on Warning for failure to comply with Commission policies and procedures, including failure to provide requested information in a timely manner. The maximum total time during one monitoring period that an institution may be on Warning is two years."

The SACSCOC Board of Trustees determined that the University was not in compliance with Core Requirement 2.2 regarding board governance and Comprehensive Standard 3.7.5 regarding Faculty Role in Governance of the organization's Principles of Accreditation.

The University of Virginia acknowledges the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  While the decision is disappointing, the University of Virginia pledges to work diligently to address the concerns cited by the commission.  For the past several months and in the spirit of continuous improvement, the Board of Visitors and University leadership have been proactively working together to review governance practices and policies to ensure the highest level of transparency, accountability and responsiveness to all those it serves.

Last month, the Board adopted revisions to the Board of Visitors Manual to provide clarity on procedures for electing and removing presidents, set up comprehensive guidelines for evaluating a president's performance, and provide more direct involvement by faculty in board deliberations.

The Board of Visitors and University leadership will continue to gather research and identify best practices from a variety of sources - including tapping outside experts and resources - so that the University may become a model for higher education governance in the commonwealth and nation.

These are extraordinary times for the University of Virginia and for all of higher education. I appreciate the many ways in which our community of learning has come together these past months and I thank you for your ongoing support as we address the many opportunities and challenges facing higher education.

John D. Simon
Executive Vice President and Provost

Executive Vice President and Provost Simon approved distribution of this message.