CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The regional Higher Learning Commission has revoked Mountain State University’s primary accreditation, marking a decisive end to a roller-coaster accreditation battle that has battered the Beckley-based school.
On Tuesday, the Higher Learning Commission posted on its website that it had withdrawn accreditation from MSU. The decision will take effect Aug. 27, 2012.
“The University has not conducted itself with the integrity expected of an accredited institution with regard to ensuring that its students have accurate and timely information about the status of their academic programs and consistent quality across all academic programs,” said the HLC’s letter.
“[The school] does not have the human and financial resources expected of an accredited institution and has not demonstrated that it can plan realistically for the future to anticipate and overcome institutional challenges.”
Accreditation is a kind of third-party stamp of approval that ensures universities or programs are meeting a set of national standards. If a university loses its primary accreditation, any degrees conferred by the university are effectively worthless.
Mountain State University is the first higher education institution in West Virginia to have its school-wide accreditation revoked, according to the state Higher Education Policy Commission.
The HLC letter went on to say that MSU “lacks effective governance and administration to provide appropriate oversight” and had failed to maintain academic quality of its programs.
The commission first placed MSU on “show cause” status in June 2011, citing the school for its top-down leadership, lack of long-term planning, failure to collaborate with faculty, failure to give information to students, and the loss of specialized accreditation for the nursing program.
The commission gave MSU one year to make big fixes at the school or risk losing its accreditation altogether. The HLC board met in Chicago last month to decide MSU’s fate.
Now that MSU has lost its regional accreditation, it has a few options. The university must submit a teach-out plan to the HLC for students currently in the pipeline to complete their degrees and finish their education at an accredited institution.
MSU officials can also file an appeal of the commission’s decision within two weeks of hearing their fate if they think the HLC’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, or not supported by substantial evidence.”
Jerry Ice, chairman of the board of trustees for MSU, would not say last month whether the Board of Trustees planned to appeal a negative HLC decision.
MSU’s accreditation problems first began in 2010 when a national agency revoked accreditation for MSU’s school of nursing. That prompted the West Virginia nursing board to place MSU’s nursing program on provisional status for major problems in leadership and failure to keep up-to-date student records.