“Middle States” Threatens Penn State’s Accreditation

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The Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued a warning to Penn State yesterday, threatening to take away their academic accreditation as a result of the Sandusky scandal and Freeh Report.

In a twelve page letter sent to President Rodney Erickson, the Middle States Commission outlined the terms of the warning. Penn State has until September 30 to submit a written report assuring the commission of their stability.

“We must be clear about what this warning means so there are no misunderstandings,” said Blannie Bowen, vice provost for academic affairs, who also is the University’s accrediting liaison officer. “This action has nothing to do with the quality of education our students receive. Middle States is focusing on governance, integrity and financial issues related to information in the Freeh report and other items related to our current situation,” said Blannie Bowen, Penn State vice provost for academic affairs.

“The commission wants us to document that steps we have already taken and are planning to take will ensure our full compliance with its requirements. I am confident that we will provide that documentation by the Sept. 30 deadline Middle States has given us.” President Erickson said. “We are a University that is fully committed to its core values of honesty, integrity and community. We are a University that will rebuild the trust and confidence that so many people have had in us for so many years.”

Middle States accuses Penn Sate of potentially violating four different areas of their accreditation requirements, relating to the following:

  • Compliance with all applicable government policies, regulations, and requirements. (Affiliation 5)
  • Institution’s governing body responsibility for the quality and integrity of the institution, for ensuring that the institution’s mission is being carried out, and for making freely available to the Commission accurate, fair, and complete information on all aspects of the institution and its operations. (Affiliation 9)
  • Leadership and Governance (Standard 4)
  • Integrity (Standard 6)

At some point, you have to feel like this is just unnecessarily piling on Penn State. Few out there would argue that Penn State’s administration is at least stable at this point. To threaten the accreditation of the one of the premier research institutions in the world is downright silly, and I get the sense that Middle States is only doing this because they feel obligated, considering the tremendous backlash towards the University in recent months.

“It is critical to emphasize that Middle States does not issue a warning unless the commission believes that an institution has the capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period and then sustain itself to stay in compliance,” Blannie Bowen said. “This certainly is true for Penn State. We’re confident that our monitoring report and the site visit will confirm this to the commission.”

Step right up and take a whack at the Penn State piñata! Who’s next?

Photo By: Shawn Inglima
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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014, and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is a director of the Nittany Valley Society 501(c)(3) and is involved in student government.

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