|A UMNS file photo by Michael Thomason
United Methodist-related Hiwassee College is located in Madisonville, Tenn.
March 1, 2005
By Linda Green*
Tenn. (UMNS)—A regional accrediting body has rejected the appeal of a
two-year United Methodist-related college to keep its accreditation.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools denied an appeal of
Hiwassee College, Madisonville, Tenn., to avoid its removal of
membership based on financial concerns.
According to an announcement at www.sacs.org,
the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools learned on Feb. 25 of the appeals committee’s decision. The
association had stripped Hiwassee of its accreditation in December, but
that action had been suspended pending the outcome of the appeals
College President James Noseworthy said the college will continue to
“pursue all avenues to sustain its vital mission” and is “extremely
disappointed in the appeals decision.” The college, he said, “has
faithfully served its mission for over 155 years. We are fiscally
stronger today than we were in 2000 when this cycle of review began.”
The liberal arts institution is associated with the Holston Annual (regional) Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools is the accrediting body for institutions of higher education
that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees in
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
to Noseworthy, the SACS action is in response to fiscal concerns first
raised by the association in 2000, when the college was placed on
warning status. Since then, college administrators have worked closely
with SACS officials to address these concerns, meeting financial goals
and developing long-term fiscal strategies.
In its appeal, the
college argued the commission’s December 2004 decision was both
unreasonable and violated procedure. The college contended its financial
resources are sound and capable of sustaining its mission.
SACS-appointed committee considered the appeal in Atlanta without
outside reviewers. Removal of the college’s accreditation was effective
Feb. 25, according to a SACS announcement.
institution can reapply for membership at anytime,” the announcement
said. “However, an application should be submitted only if and when an
institution has corrected the deficiencies which caused its loss of
with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry
expressed disappointment with the outcome of the appeal. “The division
supports President Noseworthy and assists in his effort to sustain the
United Methodist Church’s mission in two-year college education, which
plays a very critical role in preparing academically and financially
disadvantaged students for advancement,” said Ken Yamada, a staff member
with the board.
to Noseworthy, SACS believes the school does not have adequate
financial resources to support the college’s programs into the future,
“and we believe that we do.”
said the college has enhanced the quality of its academic program
during the past 21 months and within the past year has increased its
end-of-year unrestricted net assets by $262,415.82. A five-year Title
III Grant provides the college with $1.8 million in operating funds to
improve teaching though the use of technology on campus and integrating
technology into classrooms.
quality of academics is not the issue,” Noseworthy said. “As a
mission-driven college, Hiwassee has always lived ‘on the edge’
financially, but the picture painted by SACS is not indicative of our
said Hiwassee completed the fiscal year with a balanced, in-the black,
current operating budget and has ended the fiscal year in the black for
seven of the past eight fiscal years. The college increased its
endowment by $1.2 million and exceeded its goal in a community campaign
by 25 percent. It increased alumni giving to 46 percent from the
previous year, bringing overall alumni participation to 9.8 percent –
the highest in more than a decade.
have always been on the edge financially. We have never been a rich
school. We work primarily with lower-income students and financial aid,”
he said, adding that 80 percent of its students receive some type of
financial aid and 40 percent receive total financial aid. “We’ve been
(doing) this all of our lives.”
said the college is pursuing partnerships with other institutions of
higher education and other accrediting options, in addition to legal and
are not giving in,” he said. “The board of trustees is 100 percent
committed to preserving the college and its mission. We have several
options available to us and are leaving no stone unturned.”
In the meantime, the spring semester is continuing at Hiwassee College, with graduation scheduled for May 7.
covet the support of the community, alumni, friends and the United
Methodist Church as we aggressively pursue our options,” Noseworthy
said. “We continue to solicit funds and recruit students.”
is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
Tenn. Portions of the article were adapted from a Feb. 28. release from
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.