An accrediting agency today put the University of Virginia on warning for a year for this summer’s attempted ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan.
A team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges also will visit the school.
The commission announced the decision at its annual meeting in Dallas. The commission had been examining whether UVa met the commission’s requirements for integrity, governance and the faculty’s role in governance. The commission deemed UVa out of compliance with the commission’s standards on governance and faculty role in governance.
“While the decision is disappointing, the University of Virginia pledges to work diligently to address the concerns cited by the commission,” University of Virginia Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon wrote in an email from Dallas, where the decision was announced. “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.”
The commission examines whether institutions are in compliance with a substantial set of written standards.
“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,” Simon wrote.
The university and the commission traded letters through the fall. UVa’s last communication pointed to governance changes it had made.
Among the most substantial changes is a new requirement that the full board vote is required both to fire a president and to accept a president’s resignation. The summer’s crisis kicked off when Rector Helen E. Dragas pushed Sullivan to resign, then assembled a fraction of the board’s executive committee to accept the resignation.
“These are extraordinary times for the University of Virginia and for all of higher education,” Simon wrote. “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.”
Accreditation is required for schools accepting federal money, and is also key to an institution’s reputation. Schools are up for reaffirmation of accreditation every 10 years, and have to check in every five years. The commission also can get involved when high-profile problems at a university make the news and when the commission receives complaints. In this case, national publicity sparked the inquiry, according to the commission.
Warning is one of two actions the commission can take short of pulling accreditation. Probation is more severe.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.