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Universities threatened with loss of accreditation

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017

* Buried way down in today’s Tribune article is this sentence

Also at risk is accreditation for some state universities after the Higher Learning Commission issued a letter warning that a continued lack of funding “places the higher education system of Illinois at considerable risk and is injurious to the very students the system purports to serve.”

* Here’s the letter…

June 22, 2017
To: The Honorable Governor Rauner Illinois Senate President Cullerton
Illinois House Speaker Madigan
Illinois Senate Leader Radogno
Illinois House Leader Durkin
Members of the Illinois General Assembly

I am writing to you on behalf of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the regional accrediting agency responsible for assuring the quality of colleges and universities for students in nineteen states, including Illinois. In this role, HLC also serves as a federally-recognized gatekeeper for student financial aid, including the more than $4 billion distributed to students in Illinois in 2016-17. I am contacting you because of HLC’s preeminent role in protecting students.

In February of 2016, I wrote to you with many of the same concerns about the lack of a state budget that I am going to reiterate today; however, these concerns have grown exponentially since that time. Sixteen months after my initial memo there remains no sustainable funding for higher education in Illinois. The continued lack of such funding places the higher education system of Illinois at considerable risk and is injurious to the very students the system purports to serve. As the accrediting agency tasked with assuring quality, I must warn you about the accreditation consequences of the failure to provide sustainable funding for Illinois higher education.

HLC has closely monitored Illinois institutions of higher education over the past two-and-a-half years and has observed the increasingly dire effects of this budget crisis. These include but are not limited to the following:

    • Increased tuition and fees for students and loss of MAP money for needy students;
    • Significantly declining student enrollments;
    • Loss of faculty and staff and elimination of academic programs and services;
    • Canceled capital projects and cuts to plant operations, further diminishing jobs; and,
    • Depleted or diminished cash reserves and loss of grant and charitable donation income.

Institutions exhibiting these problems, regardless of cause, are still subject to HLC standards that require the availability of appropriate financial, physical, and human resources. When institutions no longer meet, or are at risk of not meeting these standards, HLC is obligated to implement its system of sanctions and public information to alert the public about the impact on educational quality; some institutions may ultimately face withdrawal of accreditation. Students attending institutions that do not have status with an accrediting agency recognized by the federal government cannot access federal financial aid.

You have the power to stop this spiral of diminishing quality of higher education in Illinois and the resulting accreditation consequences. I urge you to act immediately to fund higher education in Illinois. You have the future of thousands of Illinois college students in your hands. Do what is needed to ensure that they have a strong education in Illinois.

As you deliberate this most consequential decision, please contact me with any questions or concerns. Sincerely,

Barbara Gellman-Danley, Ph.D. President, Higher Learning Commission

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

25 Comments
  1. - BIG R. Ph - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 12:48 pm:

    And once you lose the “Golden Ticket” of accreditation, it takes a loooong time to get it back. It is NOT an on/off switch.


  2. - Chicago Cynic - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    The damage Governor Junk has caused is so depressingly unnecessary. How does he sleep at night knowing he’s destroying one of the great university systems in the country.


  3. - illini - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    Is anyone paying attention - does anyone care?

    We all knew that if this impass continued that the situation would deteriorate even further.

    And now we are at this point. It makes absolutely no sense right now to detail the deliberate destruction that we see happening - we have been talking about this for years.

    Several thousand U of I Alums were on a conference call Thursday evening with President Killen. He reminded us os the IPAC plan submitted by the University ( Senate Bill 222 and House Bill 296 ) that would address many of the issues impacting the 3 campuses in return for a 5 year stable funding committment.

    Many of the Regionals will likely not fare as well to the detriment of the entire state.

    I know He. Does. Not. Care., but, please, Governor #DoYourJob


  4. - JPC - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    I would also add that the reputational damage harms everyone who has been affiliated with the institutions in question.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    Governors open universities.

    Governors don’t passively let universities fail, in hopes of closing them

    When Rauner had the opportunity to fully fund higher education, Rauner vetoed the measure.

    If you fail to recognize this fact, that is in you, and you not recognizing Rauner’s goal in higher education…

    … closing state universities.

    Heck, if they lose accreditation, if that speeds up the process, that makes Rauner giddy.

    Words, written or otherwise… actions.

    Legislative Raunerites want state universities closed too, don’t let them fool you with the pretend hand wringing.

    Those Raunerites in the House and Senate with state universities “know” … “Who”… they are.


  6. - cdog - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    It appears that both Rauner and Madigan prefer these universities lose accreditation.

    Actions speak louder than words.


  7. - kitty - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 2:15 pm:

    No elected official in Illinois history has caused so much deliberate damage to the State of Illinois than Bruce Rauner. Holding higher education hostage for a plutocracy based agenda for which he has no mandate. The level of damage being done by Rauner to higher education is both unconscionable and unforgivable. The House GOP is uniquely in a position to save their party and the State if a few members can muster the courage to oppose Rauner by agreeing to pass a budget without the Rauner non-budget agenda items.


  8. - wordslinger - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 2:15 pm:

    Every day, more of the predictable consequences of intentional Social Darwinism.

    An honest guy with guts who spent $100 million to be governor would have made his case in the public square as to his belief on the need to reduce or eliminate some higher ed or social services.

    Bruce the Vivisectionist ain’t an honest or gutsy guy. That must be clear to everyone by now. He’s a con man.

    My guess on the most likely to shut down, in order, are Northeastern, Governor’s State, Eastern, Western and Carbondale.

    Chicago State will be “saved” in some form to shine up the the governor’s kum-bi-yah credentials and head off serious blowback.

    The gutting of community colleges is probably worse. That’s under the radar.

    See, that’s how you build a workforce attractive to “job creators.” You get rid of continuing education opportunities.

    The Rauner train, Mississippi bound.


  9. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    When Richard B. Ogilvie was governor of Illinois, he visited the Edwardsville campus of SIU and someone asked him a question about funding for a project there. Ogilvie was a Republican from Cook County. You might think we would waffle about extra money for a university in southern Illinois, but he did not. “This is a wealthy state, and we will do what is necessary,” I heard the governor reply. That must have been about 1972.


  10. - Retired But still working - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    If this is the governor winnin’, I’d like to see what his losin’ looks like. It might be a better option for a lot of us.


  11. - Ryan - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    This will be the nail in the coffin for higher education in Illinois that Rauner wants. This is 100% intentional on his part.


  12. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    This isn’t just about a couple public universities now. Community colleges are hurting and also some of the private institutions. Does Dr. Purvis have any response other than blaming Madigan?


  13. - Sigh - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    Explain to us how Chicago State has retained its accreditation? Smoke and mirrors?


  14. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    Sigh, stay on topic.


  15. - Atsuishin - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    ==This is a wealthy state, and we will do what is necessary,==

    Is not 1972 and it’s not wealthy anymore. The citizenry will not tolerate new taxes which just flow to the pension system. They’ll either vote the bums out and if they cant win, vote with there feet and pack up for TX and other low tax fast growing states.


  16. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 4:49 pm:

    Atsuishin: it’s the fifth largest state in the country with a higher per capita income than out neighbors. How are we not wealthy?

    Maybe the election is what we need. And the losers leave. Too bad we can’t call snap elections like the English.


  17. - Ed Higher - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 8:10 pm:

    The current situation is just the latest chapter in the history of general neglect of universities. Since 2000, NEIU has seen its financial contribution from the state decrease by 40 percent. Who’s taken up the slack? Students, with tuition hikes, and faculty and staff with cuts.

    If Springfield really doesn’t want a university system, the merciful thing would be an orderly shutdown. What they’ve done instead is run over the dog then watch it die slowly in the ditch.


  18. - Huh? - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 8:48 pm:

    Loss of accreditation will be a serious blow to those people who soon to graduate and are required to obtain professional licenses to work. For professional engineers, one of the requirements is to graduate from an accredited college. I am sure that other professions have similar requirements.

    That big sucking sound is the brain drain as high school students leave for out of state colleges and universities.


  19. - NorthsideNoMore - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 9:11 pm:

    HLC out over thier skiis on this. The fact that schools have no money doesnt dismiss the the quality of the educators that remain. Only if schools they back fill with non qualified replacements would this be an issue. But Higher Ed has to do something to protect their flanks and perpetuate the value of the HLC other Higher ED professional associations


  20. - olddog - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 9:48 pm:

    === HLC out over thier skiis on this. ===

    No they’re not. Read the letter. They’re well within their authority. As a faculty member, I worked with the reaccreditation of a private liberal arts college, and I can assure you the HLC criteria on “the availability of appropriate financial, physical, and human resources” are rigorous. They mean what they say about denying accreditation, and they have the power to do it.


  21. - Doc Anonymous - Saturday, Jun 24, 17 @ 10:53 pm:

    As a faculty member at a regional university I can only agree that the HLC is not “out over their skis” on this one. Despite the best efforts of the universities, this massive a decrease in funding has hurt quality already and will lead to broken promises to students if it continues. Accreditors don’t pull the plug lightly, but once they do, a school is all but damned. There’s blame enough to go around, but the HLC has directed its fire at the right place: the Governor is responsible for running state government, and he’s running it into the ground.


  22. - David - Sunday, Jun 25, 17 @ 5:54 am:

    You would almost think an enemy took over our state to ruin it.


  23. - Etown - Sunday, Jun 25, 17 @ 7:54 am:

    Ivy League Boy Rauner believes college should only be for privileged just like health care


  24. - CDR_N - Sunday, Jun 25, 17 @ 4:19 pm:

    Madigan has run the State as a for-profit subsidiary of the Democrat Party for the last 30 years. The debt crisis in Illinois was not created by Rauner in the last 2 years - it was created by Madigan with the complicity of every Governor throughout the last three decades. All this in spite of a Constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. An HONEST budget requires dramatic cuts. And an honest budget is only a down payment, we need to generate 130 Billion of surplus to break even on the promises already broken.


  25. - incredulous - Monday, Jun 26, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    And let us remember that the 1970 Constitution’s pension guarantee language was the brain child of a U of I prof. Didn’t NIU’s Pres just get a huge buy out? Not my circus, not my monkeys — but how many times did I read articles about bloated administration while tuition was increasing?


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