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Accrediting panel to review U.Va.'s status

Tuesday - 10/23/2012, 12:09pm  ET

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - An accrediting panel has questions about the University of Virginia stemming from the Board of Visitors' failed attempt to oust President Teresa Sullivan.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is reviewing the events that occurred this summer to determine whether U.Va. met standards for integrity, governing borads and the faculty's role in governance.

The Daily Progress ( http://bit.ly/Vx7Ph6) reports that the commission told the university in a recent letter that there's no identified procedure related to removing U.Va.'s president, which creates the possibility of integrity issues.

It appears that the Faculty Senate should have been notified of the board's intent to oust Sullivan because the group advises the rector and Board of Visitors "concerning educational and related matters affecting the welfare of the University," stated the letter, which was signed Mark V. Smith, vice president of the commission.

The commission will refer its questions to two committees. At a December meeting, the commission's Board of Trustees could place U.Va. on warning or probation, ask for a follow-up report, accept the university's response, or remove its accreditation.

"The board believes the university has fully complied with the principles of accreditation, state law and its own policies, and hopes that (the association's) concerns will be satisfactorily addressed," the university said in a statement.

U.Va. officials announced June 10 that Sullivan would step down in August, surprising the university community and triggering an outcry over the lack of explanation about her forced resignation. The announcement led to two weeks of protests, resignations and reneged donations until officials reinstated Sullivan on June 26.

Sullivan is the first woman to lead the university founded by Thomas Jefferson.

In the wake of the controversy, the commission had asked U.Va. to respond to its concerns over Sullivan's removal and reinstatement. The Board of Visitors' response, submitted in September, said the failed ouster attempt was flawed but not to the extent that its accreditation should be jeopardized.

The board's response said the "true and honest' basis for members' dissatisfaction with Sullivan's performance was publicly stated by rector Helen Dragas regarding the direction and future of the university.

The university has until Nov. 12 to submit any additional information, the commission said.

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Information from: The Daily Progress, http://www.dailyprogress.com


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)