Grambling Gets New Lease on Life – Dec 9, 2003
Accrediting Body Reaffirms Accreditation; State Leaders, University Officials Look Forward to New Life for Grambling
NASHVILLE – The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmed Grambling’s accreditation today, ending two years of uncertainty at the 102-year-old university.
Citing evidence of Grambling’s financial stability, the SACS Commission on Colleges lifted the university’s two-year probation, eliminating the cloud that has hung over the university since SACS placed it on probation in December 2001.
“The university’s improvement in the first year of probation was significant but the progress over the past year has been appreciably better. We can now say that Grambling State University is a member in good standing with no conditions,” SACS Associate Executive Director David A. Carter said after the decision was announced.
University officials and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System have worked to stabilize the university’s finances, implement new accounting procedures and strengthen accountability, prompting state auditors to award two consecutive “unqualified” (clean) audit opinions to the school in 2002 and 2003, the first successful audits in five years.
SACS, which accredits colleges and universities in the South, placed Grambling on probation pending a resolution to the university’s fiscal problems. A year ago, the accrediting body acknowledged Grambling’s improvement but chose not to lift its probation until there was sufficient evidence that the university could sustain its progress.
Governor M.J. “Mike” Foster and Governor-Elect Kathleen Blanco both congratulated the university on its accomplishment.
“It’s been a long haul for Grambling,” Foster said. “I know that everyone has worked hard. I wish the university and its students the very best in the future.”
Blanco said, “I’m happy for the entire Grambling community. Now parents and students who choose Grambling will know for certain that they have chosen well. I want to commend (Acting Grambling President) Neari Warner and the whole Grambling family on the hard work it took to get to this point.”
Warner shared the news long distance with Grambling students and others through a live video conference from Nashville.
“This has been a long road, but I honestly believe that Grambling is emerging a stronger, more vital university as a result,” Warner said. “I believe that we will look back on this period in Grambling’s history as one that has produced positive change for Grambling students, both present and future.”
Commissioner of Higher Education E. Joseph Savoie said, “Grambling’s reaccreditation is excellent news. It is the result of the tireless efforts of a long list of people committed to the success of this important university.”
University of Louisiana System President Sally Clausen, who when hired was charged with getting Grambling back on solid footing, stressed that the university must remain vigilant in its commitment to improving the institution.
“The Commission on Colleges has determined that Grambling’s financial health is strong. Now our efforts must go toward strengthening every facet of the university,” Clausen said. “We want Grambling to be recognized as much for its strong academics as it is for its athletics.”
“This truly is a classic American story in which hard work achieved positive results,” she said. Clausen acknowledged the hard work of Warner, Grambling’s Vice President for Finance Billy Owens, his staff, the UL System Board, UL System staff and others on campus and elsewhere “who have made Grambling’s turnaround a priority. We’ll take some time to savor the accomplishment, but we’ll continue to move forward. Our next priority will be naming a permanent president for Grambling.”
The UL System Board announced Friday that it was officially launching a national search for a permanent Grambling president. Warner has served in an acting capacity since former President Steve Favors resigned in January 2001. She has not announced whether she will seek the permanent presidency.
UL System Board Chair Gordon Pugh said he hopes to have a permanent leader in place by July 1. “There is no way to overestimate what this decision means for Grambling. It is really a new lease on life,” Pugh said.
SACS accreditation is considered to be crucial to Grambling’s survival. Without it, Grambling students would be ineligible for federal financial aid. Currently about 92 percent of Grambling students receive such aid.
“Our university is blessed with many tireless supporters – on campus, in Louisiana and throughout the country. They never stopped believing in Grambling and its mission. I thank them and ask them to continue to be with us as we proceed to build a new life for Grambling,” Warner said.
Founded in 1901 as a private industrial school to educate African-American citizens in north central Louisiana, Grambling is a comprehensive university offering undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education programs. Situated on a 383-acre campus in the small town of Grambling, the historically black university has almost 5,000 students.
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. Universities are up for accreditation every 10 years.
The University of Louisiana System includes eight universities: Grambling, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Louisiana at Monroe.
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