Penn State's accreditation reaffirmed, University now off warning list

Source: Penn State Live; November 16, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. ­-- Penn State is in full compliance with all accreditation requirements, according to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which has lifted its 'warning' and Thursday (Nov. 15) reaffirmed the University's accreditation.

While Penn State's accreditation always remained intact, the University was put on warning by MSCHE on Aug. 8, based on the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving retired former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"When notified of the warning we were confident we could verify our ongoing commitment to integrity, stable leadership and financial security -- the areas that Middle States had questioned. I'm grateful that these areas of strength have now been validated by Middle States," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "While the excellence of our educational programs was never in question, it is reassuring that Middle States continues to recognize Penn State as a world-class academic institution that is stepping up to meet its current challenges."

In reaffirming Penn State's accreditation, the commission requested a monitoring report, due Nov. 1, 2013, documenting the University's continued progress in implementing leadership and governance reforms, and in addressing financial obligations related to the current situation.

Middle States evaluators visited the University in mid-October. Led by William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor for the University System of Maryland, the evaluating team determined that Penn State is responding appropriately to the leadership, governance and financial challenges created by the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The evaluation team's report states it is "impressed by the degree to which Penn State has risen, as a strong campus community, to the sad events that led to its placement on 'warning' status by the MSCHE." It also said Penn State's process to respond to the Freeh recommendations has been "thorough, inclusive, systematic and timely."

The Middle States site-visit report said that Penn State meets all quality standards for accreditation, commending the University's resilience, fiscal stability and rapid change in the face of numerous challenges.

The commission's notification in August followed the release of the Freeh Report and $60 million in fines and sanctions levied by the NCAA. The Freeh Report, the result of an independent internal investigation, made 119 recommendations to strengthen University policies and performance in areas such as safety and governance.

The evaluators also commended the entire Penn State community for "its response to tragic events in a way that, to date, has emphasized unity and positive change over recrimination."

Read the full story.