FAMU, Chrichton College, Hiwassee College ...
In getting slapped with a six-month probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, FAMU does not find itself in good company. No other public university in Florida, in recent memory, has been so zapped by SACS. And it's fair to say the colleges and universities that do get hit tend to be small, fairly obscure schools - not big state universities, not big research institutions and certainly not schools with big reps like FAMU, a former Time magazine College of the Year.
As reported in Saturday's St. Petersburg Times (see story here), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put only one school on probation last year: Bishop Sate Community College in Mobile, Ala. (Who? That's the point.) But a quick LexisNexis search and a gander at the SACS website reveals some of the other recent members of the probationary club: Chrichton College, a small Christian college in Memphis, Tenn.; Louisiana College (no, not LSU), a small Baptist college in Pineville, La.; Georgetown College (no, not Georgetown University), a small Baptist college in Georgetown, Ky.; Hiwassee College, a small Methodist school in Madisonville, Tenn., and so on. True, Auburn and the University of Southern Mississippi also made SACS' bad list in recent years, but big schools are far and away the exception to the rule.
True, too, that Florida schools get put on probation now and then. For example, Beacon College in Leesburg, which bills itself as the only 4-year college in the country for students with learning disabilities, was put on probation in 2005, after cost overruns on a new dorm led to cash-flow problems. And in 2004, Edward Waters College, a historically black school in Jacksonville, was stripped of accreditation by SACS after acknowledging it had plagiarized another college's re-accreditation document. (Its status was restored after a court settlement.)
FAMU faculty will hear more about the accreditation issue within the hour, at a meeting on campus called by FAMU CEO Larry Robinson. In an email to faculty this morning, Robinson wrote of the decision by SACS: "It is unfortunate that the timing of this announcement and other circumstances resulted in us having to live through the weekend without being able to communicate in this fashion. It is of utmost importance, however, that you all have an opportunity to hear the facts, as we know them, from your university - not from external sources who may not have complete and accurate information."