Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Giant Steps on the Road to Renewal

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Giant Steps on the Road to Renewal

Article excerpt

Central State University has accreditation renewed and is released from U.S. Department of Education penalty

Wilberforce, Ohio -- Central State University, Ohio's only public historically African American university (HBCU), has taken several powerful strides in its journey toward renewal.

CSU President John Garland announced August 13 that the university has gained institutional reaccreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities (NCA). The accreditation victory represented a significant accomplishment for the university because Ohio legislators passed a law last year that gave them the authority to move toward shutting down the school had it failed to obtain the renewal.

The NCA required the school to file a financial statement and progress report, but otherwise gave Central State unqualified accreditation through 2003, Garland said. CSU was last accredited in 1989. An evaluation visit to the CSU campus, scheduled for last year, was postponed at the university's request because of financial and political turmoil.

Garland also announced that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has notified the school that it is lifting an ongoing penalty CSU has endured in its student financial-aid program. The university is being moved from a cumbersome and restrictive "reimbursement" status to a quicker "cash-monitoring" system.

The lifting of the sanction will allow CSU to draw upon federal financial aid money at the beginning of academic quarters and distribute it to students rather than waiting months for reimbursement. When ED imposed its penalty in July 1994, the action helped trigger a serious cash-flow problem at the school that led to political and financial crises.

Garland called the lifting of the sanction "a major breakthrough" that reflects the university's improved ability to manage its finances and student aid effectively.

Tedd Miller, CSU's vice president for enrollment management, said the Education Department's action "will have a significant impact on enrollment.... The morale of students, when they hear about this, is just going to go sky high."

Fall quarter classes are scheduled to begin September 8.

CSU's accomplishments drew praise from some very important circles. Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Chu, the state's top public higher education official, called the developments "significant milestones," and said they "confirm my contention that Central State is moving into a new era of accomplishment and respectability."

Robert Marcus, faculty member and president of Central State's American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter, praised Garland and his administration for the work on getting the Education Department sanction lifted, saying it will "help the university's cash flow and will help with student retention and ... our efforts to build up the student body."

Marcus also praised faculty, staff, and administrators for their work on the institutional accreditation.

"The NCA folks obviously were pleased with what they saw in our academic programs," Marcus said.

The university also received good news on a second accreditation front: its manufacturing engineering program has earned a renewal of accreditation from the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Garland said. …

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