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Due to poor financial management and failure to comply with trust requirements, Florida Memorial University has been given a one-year probationary period by its accrediting agency.

According to the Southern College and School Association Committee (SACSCOC), the accrediting agency, university leaders have failed to maintain a board of trustees overseeing institutions, managing financial resources in a responsible manner, and properly controlling all institutions. Financial resources and compliance with program responsibilities related to the financial assistance program.

The certifier said in a statement Disclosure statement Last month, the university was suspended “for legitimate reasons.” When an institution fails to make enough progress in meeting the requirements during the two-year supervision period, but “recently has made significant achievements in resolving non-compliance issues” and “provides evidence” that it can be resolved within one year Such sanctions will be implemented when there are problems.Despite this action taken by SACSCOC, the university is still accredited by Miami Times.

The university’s provost and executive vice president, Adrienne Cooper, stated that the administrators are complying with the requirements of the certification body and she believes that the agency will successfully resolve the issue and cancel the probation because this special probation “will not happen unless there is clear evidence that You are heading in the right direction.”

She said that there is no problem with the academic status of the institution.

“We have been conveying information to students, and we continue to reiterate that we will continue to provide quality education, which has nothing to do with academic quality,” Cooper said. “The degree is absolutely still valid and will continue to be valid. We will continue to educate students who are still eligible for financial aid.”

SASAC also Put the other three institutions Regarding “justified probation.” The certification agency sanctioned Pfeiffer University, a private Methodist liberal arts institution located in North Carolina, because it failed to maintain good financial resources and manage its finances responsibly. Southwest Christian College, a long-established private black Christian institution in Texas, was also suspended for failing to maintain sustainable funding and proper financial control. South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette was punished for failing to adequately measure and evaluate student performance in undergraduate degree programs and provide evidence of improvement efforts.

The president of Florida Memorial University, Jaffus Hardrick, stated in a statement on July 7 that the new probation status of the Florida Memorial is due to the long-standing financial problems and enrollment of the historic black private university in Miami Gardens. After falling Video statementHadrick was the third leader of the university in less than two years when he became interim president in July 2018.

“The problem that needs to be solved is the financial problem, which is the combined result of underinvestment in universities and low enrollment rates over the past 10 years,” he said.

One of the goals of the university Strategic PlanReleased in October 2020, it is increasing the number of students enrolled to 3,000. The total number of students in the 2018-19 school year is 1,445 students, Comparison of According to statistics, the number of students in the 2009-10 academic year was 2,287, a decrease of more than 36% in the past ten years data From the National Education Statistics Center.

Cooper said that despite the pandemic, enrollment has remained fairly stable from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020. However, the college has not disclosed the number of enrollment in 2020.

Hadrick said the university plans to attract more students through new academic and sports programs.

“Just last year, we launched 12 new certificate programs to really stimulate and stimulate the university’s enrollment growth,” he said.

The university has had problems with institutional finances in the past.Former President Roslyn Clark Artis told Miami herald She inherited a deficit of $3 million when she became interim president in 2013. She said that the agency reduced the deficit to $1 million through a series of austerity measures, including about 12 layoffs, freezing of wages and reducing unnecessary travel. administrator.

The three long-established private black colleges in Florida were also one of the institutions that received state funding in 2011. The state funding for the Florida Memorial, Bethune-Cookman University, and Edward Waters College was reduced by 7% compared with the previous year. Florida Trends Report. According to the publication, this reduction means a 27% drop compared to the funding levels in the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently increase He funded the Florida Memorial in his 2020-21 budget and allocated 7 million U.S. dollars to the institution, up from 3.5 million U.S. dollars in the previous year.The Florida Memorial is also one of 45 historic black institutions Grant loan relief In the Federal Coronavirus Relief Act of December 2020. Debt relief flows to colleges and universities that borrow from the federal government. HBCU Capital Financing PlanThis provides a way to obtain low-interest capital for existing debt refinancing and infrastructure improvements.

The Florida Memorial has one year to resolve and resolve issues raised by the certification body. The certification body will send a special committee to visit the university during this period to evaluate and report on its progress. SACSCOC will also review a report from university leaders on the institution’s progress in June 2022. Then, the certification body can cancel the university’s probation period, continue the second year’s probation period, or cancel the university’s certification. Without accreditation, the university will not be eligible for federal funding, including federal financial aid and student Pell grants.

“This is an opportunity for checks and balances and accountability,” said Janea Johnson, a public relations and data expert at SACSCOC. “Organizations usually comply with regulations and then removed from probation. This happens often.”

Robert Palmer, director of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Howard University, said that in recent years, as enrollment numbers have fallen and tuition income has fallen, many small universities have been struggling to maintain accreditation. These challenges are particularly severe in small historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs, such as the Florida Memorial.

He pointed out that even before the pandemic that led to a decline in enrollment in the higher education system, colleges and universities faced a population cliff, that is, the number of traditional American college students has fallen sharply. He said that the long-term decline in enrollment is a “more systemic problem” that may be difficult to solve within a year of university.

Cooper, the dean of the Florida Memorial, agrees that the population cliff is part of the reason.

“I think we are facing problems that every university faces,” Cooper said. “Our 18-24 year old population is declining. In the past few years, most of the HBCU enrollment rates have been declining.”

Enrollment increase After the killing of George Floyd, some HBCU triggered a “national liquidation” regarding the country’s anti-black racism. Black students sought asylum on the HBCU campus, where they Feel more popular And protection. However, smaller private HBCUs are still competing with more affordable public universities to recruit students, and they often have smaller endowments to provide financial aid, if they have an endowment fund, Palmer said. He said that HBCU also provides services to a large number of first-generation and low-income students, who often need more financial support.

“When they start to lose students, when students start to go elsewhere, it really puts a heavy burden on their tuition. [revenue]. They have to start cutting other areas,” he said of HBCU.

SACSCOC is currently accrediting universities in 11 southern states, including 72 long-established black institutions, and has revoked the accreditation of several small private HBCUs in the past.Committee Peel off Morris Brown College in Atlanta was accredited in 2002 after a former dean and director of financial aid misappropriated funds from the Department of Education. Since then, the college has become a candidate for certification by the Association of Transnational Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) this year. Two years after Maurice Brown, the Scottia College of Barbers in North Carolina lost its certification.Paul Quinn College follow In 2009, now accredited by TRACS and St. Paul’s College in Virginia shut down In 2013, after losing its certification.Bennett College Certification It was cancelled in 2018, but North Carolina Women’s College is now a candidate for TRACS certification.

Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, said: “We believe that HBCU tends to receive the most severe penalties and tends to be called… more frequently and differently than other types of institutions.” United Negro College Fund, A membership organization representing the private HBCU. He points to an UNCF white paper, Released in 2019, claiming that SACSCOC imposed disproportionate sanctions on minority service agencies because of possible bias in the certification process.

SACSCOC’s Johnson stated that certification agencies require that “all agencies are accountable to the same standards.” This year, predominantly white agencies have also received similar sanctions. She also pointed out that all types of small private institutions tend to be more “tuition-oriented”, which may bring “more challenges in the financial sector.”

“If there is insufficient enrollment, especially in the first year, it will affect the budget, so it is more about the nature of being a private institution,” she said.

Estelle Taylor, chairman of the Orlando Chapter of the Florida Memorial University Alumni Association, said that she did not know about Florida Memorial University’s probation, but she and other alumni believed that it was not in the best interests of the university and did not make any contributions. Worry about spending decisions. To its financial health.She pointed out the decision resurrection Take the college football team in the fall of 2020 as an example-after more than 60 years without a team.

She said: “I can’t say all of us, but many of us really question this and don’t approve of it.” “We know the school needs other things. They need a brand new music room; they need a new one. Tools and different academic content. Classrooms need new desks and chairs and things that make students feel comfortable.”

Anonymous online petition An account called “FMU ALUM” called for the removal of the university president and was signed by about 100 people in response to the Florida Memorial’s probation. The petition claims that campus security measures are lax, Wi-Fi is unreliable and other technical problems, and enrollment rates have fallen. Miami Times Report.

Cooper said the college is adopting a variety of strategies to increase enrollment and income, including new health care programs, a bachelor’s degree in health care focused on administrative management, and a new online master’s program in special student education approved by SACSCOC. There are also some new courses focused on preparing students for the fast-growing video game industry. She also described the latest updates to the infrastructure of the 53-year-old campus, such as the replacement of the power grid last year.

“We know we are heading in the right direction,” she said.

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