WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni today filed a complaint with the Department of Education charging that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) acted without foundation in placing the University of Virginia “on warning” and that it overstepped its role as an accrediting body, inappropriately injecting itself into a power struggle between the president, faculty, and the board of trustees.
Early this month, the accreditors placed UVA on warning, concluding that the University failed to comply with standards regarding governing processes and the authority of faculty in governance matters.
“It appears that SACS’ real issue is not the absence of board policy, but the substance of the board’s policy,” ACTA charges. Current UVA policy reserves complete authority to the Board in matters of presidential hiring and firing. “The notion, suggested by SACS, that the board must give the Faculty Senate advance notice of its intention to terminate the president is both ludicrous and in utter violation of the board’s statutory and fiduciary responsibility to serve the public interest. Whether the accreditors like it or not, the authority of the UVA board is plenary.”
ACTA President Anne Neal stated: “If accreditors, who have authority to end a school’s access to federal student aid funds, are allowed to substitute their judgment in matters of state law and governance, they will bring about the sure erosion of institutional autonomy and undermine the ability of governing boards everywhere to provide needed checks and balances.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent nonprofit dedicated to empowering trustees on behalf of academic freedom, excellence and accountability. For further information, contact ACTA Press Secretary Daniel Burnett at 202-467-6787.