Accreditation Status Endangered at Medgar Evers College
Why has it taken the City University of New York (CUNY) so long to act before the present Pollard administration at Medgar Evers College endangered its once stellar accreditation status? According to the Warning status issued by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) on November 15, 2012, the jeopardy status of Medgar’s accreditation has now become an indefensible reality. There is no reasonable answer that can satisfy faculty, students, staff and community stakeholders for CUNY’s allowing the potential failure of this Central Brooklyn’s anchor institution.
While the accreditation of Medgar Evers College remains intact, the College has been placed on alert status. The Warning issued specifically relates to Standards 2, 7, and 14 (Planning, Resource Allocation, Institutional Assessment, and Assessment of Student Learning) and Institutional Renewal. This Warning is an unprecedented action taken against the College. In its 40-year history, Medgar Evers College has always received a superlative evaluation from the MSCHE. This Warning represents a State of Emergency for the College, one that must be addressed immediately by CUNY and its Chancellery.
In effect, this emergency situation is only further proof of the incompetence of the current administration, which has already been brought to the attention of the CUNY Chancellery on any number of occasions. By the first 2010 Vote of No Confidence suffered by President William L. Pollard and his administration, faculty and staff of Medgar Evers College rendered a decisive judgment that this administration was proceeding along a precarious path of disenfranchising our core constituency— students—and was demonstrating a strident incompetence in handling the administrative affairs of the College.
At press conferences, in interviews, at Board of Trustees’ hearings, at an oversight hearing of the New York Commissions of Education and Civil Rights, in numerous letters and even at a meeting with the Vice-Chancellery, faculty, staff and community stakeholders of Medgar Evers College drew to the attention of the Chancellery the mismanagement of resources by the Pollard administration, the excessive hiring of consultants and administrators, the reduction, if not collapse, of student service infrastructure, as well as the declining student performance rates. Throughout the College’s history, past administrations at Medgar have been ousted for much less. Why has CUNY allowed this administration to stay and endanger the hard-won accreditation of the College?
The administrative cronyism at the College has reached an unacceptable level under Dr. Pollard, to the point that the appointments of his cohort administrators chronically underserve the needs of the College, as reflected in the MSCHE accreditation Warning. In addition, the reshuffling of these administrators into different positions, without regard to a best match between individual qualifications and position requirements, gives further credence to the fact that Dr. Pollard’s loyalty is not allied with the academic advancement of students and the mission of this civil rights institution. From all indication, his first pledge of allegiance has always been to keep his cohorts employed at all cost, even to the detriment of the institution.
Pollard’s favoritism was also apparent in the hiring of a Syracuse-based consultant firm for a scandalous sum of public money to create a Strategic Plan for the College—a plan of little use because it does not meet MSCHE standards, much like the bridge to nowhere. It was this very kind of unfettered cronyism that also allegedly had Dr. Pollard ousted from the University of District of Columbia. Moreover, CUNY’s own Performance Management Plan (PMP), employed to evaluate Dr. Pollard, provides further objective evidence that the Pollard administration failed in its charge to improve student success rates. By citing Standard 14, Assessment of Student Learning as not meeting standards, the MSCHE confirmed what faculty and staff already knew about the Pollard administration’s ineffectiveness.
As the public disclosure statement of Middle States shows, many of the infractions brought before the Chancellery by faculty and staff of Medgar Evers College were vindicated by the Middle States Accreditation Commission. Indeed, its public disclosure statement has certainly given further credibility to the faculty’s Vote of No Confidence. What the Chancellery has refused to acknowledge is that, unlike any other constituency, the tenured faculty of an academic institution are very much invested in the accreditation viability of an institution and in student success. While administrators like Dr. Pollard come and go, tenured faculty stay.
Finally, the CUNY Chancellery surely knows that the Pollard administration has squandered its moral capital and cannot be trusted to fix the institution which its incompetence has jeopardized. Indeed, the two Votes of No Confidence say that the faculty and staff of the College have found this administration wanting. The Chancellery must act to save Medgar Evers College from further accreditation erosion and to secure the College’s historic mission for the sons and daughters of sugar cane and cotton field workers who protested in the streets of Central Brooklyn for the founding of this community anchor institution—because they believed that an equitable education was both a civil and a human right.
Submitted by Mr. Raymond Brown on behalf of the Concerned Faculty at Medgar Evers College
President Pollard Statement on Medgar Evers College Notification
Medgar Evers College has been and remains accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Middle States). Further, Middle States is confident that Medgar Evers College “has the capacity both to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period and to sustain itself in the long term”.
In 2007, Medgar Evers College underwent the process for reaffirmation of accreditation by Middle States, a process that takes place every 10 years. The standard process required by Middle States was followed by the College. This process included the preparation of an institutional self-study in which the college examined itself based on Middle States 14 Standards for accreditation. The Self-Study was submitted to Middle States followed by a site visit by an external evaluation team of college administrators and senior faculty. The eight-person visiting evaluation team submitted a report based on its on-site review and the College’s Self-Study. The summary report by the chair of the team, the Self-Study, and an analysis by Middle States resulted in the positive reaffirmation of accreditation of Medgar Evers College.
In the letter reaffirming accreditation, the College was requested to submit a five-year Periodic Review Report (PRR, which is essentially an interim progress/status report). The submission of a five-year PRR is the standard practice for campuses that have been accredited without any major concerns.
In the reaffirmation letter, however, the Commission also informed the College that the evaluation of the Middle States standards related to assessment and planning would become more stringent in the next accreditation cycle.
In June 2012, five years after reaffirmation of accreditation, in accordance with standard Middle States procedure, the follow-up PRR was prepared and submitted to Middle States. On September 17th, 2012, the College responded to Commission queries about the PRR. All of the aforementioned documents were then reviewed by the Commission. At its October 2012 meeting, the Commission concluded that the College’s submission did not provide adequate documentation of the progress that we have made on Standards 2, 7, and 14 (3 out of 14 Standards), which are related to assessment and planning. This conclusion was conveyed to the College and, as is the practice, based on the Commission’s full disclosure policy, it was posted on their web site.
The College now has an opportunity to explicitly respond to Middle States regarding how we have made progress regarding compliance with the aforementioned Standards 2, 7, and 14. Our five-year comprehensive and inclusive institutional strategic plan was completed in May 2012, action planning by units/areas is currently in progress, and we have identified areas for improvement over the next five years, including areas directly relevant to these specific Middle States Standards.
We are confident that as we move forward, work together, and positively address areas of needed improvement, as well as undertake new initiatives, the vision for Medgar Evers College will be achieved. In five years, our reaccreditation will once again be reaffirmed.