Dec. 13, 2004
|A UMNS file photo by Michael Thomason
United Methodist-related Hiwassee College is located in Madisonville, Tenn.
By Linda Green*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -- A United Methodist-related college plans to appeal a pending decision to remove its accreditation.
College, a two-year, liberal arts institution in Madisonville, Tenn.,
received notification of a decision by the Commission on Colleges of the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to remove the college from
membership. The association took its action on Dec. 6, but the college
is not expected to receive official notification until January.
official notification is received, the college will appeal the decision
through the official SACS appeal process and take any other actions
necessary," said the Rev. James Noseworthy, Hiwassee College president
for the past 22 months. "We have made tremendous progress as an
institution over the last several years and believe the SACS action is
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.
Hiwassee is appealing the decision, any SACS action will be suspended
until the appeals process is completed in March 2005.
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. Since then, college officials have worked extensively with SACS
officials to address these concerns, meeting financial goals and
developing long-term fiscal strategies.
College has dealt with fiscal challenges for several years," he said.
"There is no easily identifiable single event which led to our current
challenge. All of my predecessors endeavored to do what they believed
was best for the college," he said.
The policy statement of the Commission on Colleges, located on its website at www.sacs.org,
requires that a member institution be in compliance with the
accreditation and core requirements, comply with policies and
procedures, and provide information requested by the commission in order
to maintain membership and accreditation. When an institution fails to
comply with these requirements, within a maximum two-year monitoring
period, the commission may impose sanctions, the policy says.
the Commission determines that an institution’s progress is
insufficient during the two-year monitoring period but not significant
enough to impose a sanction, the Commission will advise the institution
that if progress or compliance is insufficient at the time of its next
formal review by the Commission, the institution could be placed on
sanction or removed from membership. Failure to make adequate progress
toward compliance at any time during the two-year period or failure to
comply with the Principles at the conclusion of two years may result in
Commission action to remove accreditation."
officials report that, during the past two years, the college has
strengthened its academic programs, created a campus-wide computer
network, enhanced classrooms, become a member of the Appalachian College
Association, kept a balanced budget, increased annual support and
developed strategies for continued growth.
decision is extremely disappointing in light of all the progress we
have made," Noseworthy said. "We are better off financially than we have
ever been in many years. In the past year alone, we increased our
endowment by $1.5 million and improved our operating assets by $200,000.
We have the grounds to build a very strong appeals case."
support in the appeal is the Division of Higher Education of the
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Ken Yamada, a
staff executive, expressed "deep regret and disappointment" over the
decision of SACS to lift the college’s membership.
division will provide President Noseworthy and Hiwassee College
all assistance necessary in the appeal and join him in
exploring viable options," he said.
hundred and fifty five years of the history of Hiwassee College proves
its unique and distinct accomplishments nurturing the powerful and
dynamic leaders for the church and the world."
college will issue an update about appeal no later than March 2005,
Noseworthy said. The college is also "exploring some promising options
for accreditation partnerships. No matter what, we will do all within
our power to ensure there will always be a place for the special mission
Hiwassee College has faithfully served since 1849," he said.
college reassures its constituents of the institution’s integrity,
academic quality and the continued dedication to excellence as United
Methodist-related two-year college.
academic program is of the highest quality," Noseworthy said. "There is
no issue with Hiwassee’s academic program or the integrity of the
faculty or current college leadership. As we anticipate the start of the
appeals process, the college remains fully accredited and students
remain fully eligible for all financial aid."
a church-related institution, he assures the United Methodist Church
that the college takes its "relationship and mission seriously." He said
the college remains focused on its central task and mission of 155
years: "providing quality, value-centered education for the young men
and young women we are privileged to have as our students."
is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
Tenn. Portions of the article were adapted from a Dec. 9 release from
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.