Louisiana College Denied Reaffirmation of Accreditation, Placed on Warning Until At Least December 2012

Update III: From The Town Talk (bold mine):

“We’re going to get some help with this,” said Searcy, who has been at LC for less than two years. In the years before that, he was at New Orleans Seminary and at a college in Colombia, South America.

Searcy also has been on SACS review teams inspecting colleges and universities. He said LC being on “warning” instead of probation is a sign SACS thinks LC is “moving in the right direction.”

Yes, you read that right: Somehow, the fact that Louisiana College wasn’t placed on probation is a sign it is “moving in the right direction.” Does anyone actually buy this? As a commentator on the SaveOurLC forums noted, this is potentially the worst example of “spin” ever.

Update II: Earlier today, Allison Brucchaus, Louisiana College’s Director of College Communications and Public Relations, tweeted me, “Did you go to LC?”

No, Ms. Bruchhaus, I did not. I went to Rice University and am now a graduate student at Southern Methodist University. And while SMU was once sanctioned for paying its football players, neither school has ever had their accreditation in peril. Louisiana College, under the leadership of President Joe Aguillard, has been sanctioned not once, but twice. And while I am not a graduate of Louisiana College, I have always been a supporter. One of my best friends in the world is an LC graduate, and so are several members of my family and many other close friends. LC is an important part of Central Louisiana; it’s a huge economic engine. Sorry, Ms. Bruchhaus, I don’t feel like I need to “qualify” myself.

During the last 24 hours, since posting this story, what has bothered me the most is the ways in which some LC administration apologists have refuted the basic facts. You disagree with LC? You must somehow lack faith in Jesus Christ. You criticize LC? Oh, you’re doing the work of Satan.

Wise up, people. Louisiana College was not founded by God. Joe Aguillard is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. During the last few years, I’ve criticized Louisiana College’s administration several times, and pathetically, the response has always been the same: Satan! There’s this bizarre belief that Louisiana College is somehow ordained by God and that any perils it confronts are all a part of a divine plan. That’s not the way ANY institution of higher learning operates or should ever operate; that’s the way a cult of personality operates.

Even at the risk of appearing to be an obnoxious, arrogant dilettante: I have a degree in Religious Studies from one of the finest and best institutions in the world, and in my humble opinion, the greatest threat to the Christianity isn’t the skeptic or the cynic; it’s the self-ordained, morally-conflicted blowhard. It’s, for example, the kind of guy who would order an exorcism on his lesbian daughter while trolling for men online. GET REAL, LC.

Update: At this point, given the lack of coverage, The Town Talk must credit.

Louisiana College has not yet permanently “lost” its accreditation, but it is now in serious jeopardy. These sanctions are serious, and LC’s non-compliance on a host of issues is very troubling. If you are a student or a graduate of LC, then you should be seriously concerned about the short-term and long-term viability of the institution and the value of your degree. You should be sounding the alarm bells, and if anyone tells you otherwise– if anyone suggests that these issues can be resolved by simply writing down a “policy” paper, as some anonymous administration apologists have suggested on the SaveOurLC forums– then you need to question their true allegiances and motives.

I’ve been writing this blog for more than six years, and this post, somehow, is the most viral ever. So forgive me, but because I have your attention: The solution at Louisiana College begins with firing President Joe Aguillard and replacing your Board of Trustees. I’ve met your Board, LC, and I’ve met, on multiple occasions, with President Aguillard.  Oh, the stories I could tell.

I believe in Louisiana College. I earnestly want Louisiana College to thrive and succeed, and I can’t help but feel real anger at the actions of LC’s Board and its President. LC, only a decade ago, was thriving. Today, it is a laughingstock. It has been hijacked by a small and extremely right-wing group of anti-intellectuals who have taken cover through a series of grandiose pronouncements– a law school, a film school, a divinity school, a medical school– and who have countered any and all criticisms by claiming that their mission is somehow ordained by God Himself.

Meanwhile, the school with which they were entrusted to care has fallen into disrepair. Meanwhile, Louisiana College is now, for the second time under Joe Aguillard, threatened with de-accreditation.

The solution is simple and obvious.

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According to a recent press release from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Louisiana College was recently denied reaffirmation of its accreditation and placed on “Warning” until at least December 2012. LC was cited for “significant non-compliance” with SACS standards.

Quoting (bold mine):

Louisiana College was denied  reaffirmation of accreditation and placed on Warning because the Commission’s Board of Trustees determined that, at the time of the institution’s decennial review, it had failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 2.5 (Institutional Effectiveness), Comprehensive Standard 3.2.9 (Faculty/Staff Appointment), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1 (Institutional Effectiveness: Educational Programs), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.2 (Institutional Effectiveness: Administrative Support Services), Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.3 (Institutional Effectiveness: Educational Support Services), Comprehensive Standard 3.4.11 (Academic Program Coordination), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1 (College-Level Competencies), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4 (Terminal Degree of Faculty), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 (Faculty Competence), Comprehensive Standard 3.11.1 (Control of Physical Resources), and Federal Requirement 4.1 (Student Achievement) of the Principles of Accreditation.

The cited standards expect an accredited institution to provide evidence that it (1) engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes, (2) identifies expected outcomes of and shows improvements in the areas of student learning/educational programs, administrative support services, and educational support services, (3) publishes policies regarding appointment and employment of faculty and staff, (4) assigns responsibility for program coordination and curriculum development to academically qualified faculty, (5) determines the degree to which graduates attain college-level general education competencies, (6) employs qualified faculty to teach assigned courses, (7) exercises appropriate control over its physical resources, and (8) evaluates success with respect to student achievement.
(To read the full statements for the standards cited above, access the Principles of Accreditation at http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp)

For those of us who have been critical of LC’s current administration, particularly the people at SaveOurLC- who first broke this story a couple of weeks ago, this likely comes as little surprise. During the last few years, under the leadership of President Joe Aguillard, LC’s campus has been plagued with million of dollars in deferred maintenance, and when at least one professor had the courage to challenge the questionable decisions of the administration, he was summarily fired and temporarily banned from campus.

Recently, we also learned that Louisiana College’s leadership actively sought $70 million in funding from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in order to underwrite its proposed medical school. When the damning internal memo was leaked to the media, President Joe Aguillard took to the pages of The Baptist Message, claiming that these reports were an assault on LC by the “liberal media.” Aguillard suggested LC was engaging in a “spiritual battle” with the media and completely denied the reports, stating that LC would “never ask for any operational funds from a non-Christian entity,” despite the reams of evidence to the contrary, including an elaborate powerpoint presentation prepared by the LC administration.

From the very beginning of his tenure, Joe Aguillard has been a controversial and polarizing leader. Before he was first appointed, the faculty at LC voted 53-12 in opposition, and in an act of defiant usurpation, the Board of Trustees reseated the Presidential Selection Committee, stacked it in favor of Aguillard, and got their man in office. This led to a series of protracted lawsuits and, sadly, resulted in the resignations of dozens of faculty members, some of whom had served the LC community for decades.

And, of course, there was this, which, embarrassingly, was picked up by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

So, it seems, unfortunately, that as Joe Aguillard criss-crosses the State and the country– meeting with foreign diplomats and conservative celebrities in an effort to raise money for  proposed medical and law schools, the school he was elected to lead is struggling to maintain both its core infrastructure and its core academic performance.

I am told, by people who work in academic administrations, that correcting all of these significant non-compliance issues in less than a year may be a practical impossibility and that there should be a real concern that LC will completely lose its accreditation for as long as a decade.