National university accreditation in jeopardy? USC Consultant, Top NU Prof Urge Probe

The April 2016 Facebook post hosted David Andrews (left) at the National University. He succeeded Michael Cunningham (right) as chairman.

In February 2020, the President of the National University shared good news with faculty and staff – a 10-year accreditation of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

“It’s a huge achievement, but it’s really no surprise,” wrote David Andrews, who resigned this week as UN president. “We have worked hard to get here.

Letter from David Andrews on 10 year accreditation. (PDF)

But that work could be canceled after a scathing report from the American Association of University Professors, which put NU on its sanctioned list for a “trinity of flagrant violations of widely accepted governance standards.”

A USC professor hired in 2019 to review NU’s restructuring plans on Friday criticized the private non-profit multicampus school based in La Jolla.

“These actions should trigger an investigation by the WASC,” said Adrianna Kezar, Dean’s Professor of Leadership and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education. “Table [of Trustees] must take seriously the AAUP sanctions and the possible implications for their accreditation. “

Kezar, responding to questions from The Times of San Diego, said by email that a Senate subcommittee of the faculty and the NU administration jointly selected her to consult with her on a NU makeover. She was paid for the work.

She called it “really disappointing” that the UN leadership and board did not “genuinely implement the recommendations I made that would have helped them move forward in a way. which not only promoted shared governance, but which supported a quality teaching and learning environment and had integrity. “

Kezar said all subsequent actions by NU were contrary to the recommendations of his 3,200-word report.

“I had mapped out a path forward that could allow the institution to heal and become more functional,” she said.

Michael Cunningham, the chancellor of the NU system who succeeded Andrews as president, did not respond to requests for comment by email or voicemail.

USC’s Kezar recalled that he pointed out that the campus has long had “cultural challenges” around shared governance that need to be addressed.

“The challenges of the task force appear to be a symptom of a much larger problem of lack of trust between administration and faculty and a lack of strong communication channels between faculty and administration, and a lack of systemic shared governance, ”she wrote at the time.

“This lack of trust is compounded by turnover of trustees throughout the year, weak and / or non-existent (in some situations) shared governance, and historic poor relations between faculty and administration.”

On Friday, she added: “Given [that] they haven’t worked on these issues, it’s no surprise that the administration / board has done so much blatant action. They have [no] channel to obtain a perspective that would dampen and temper their worst inclinations! “

What happens when a school loses its accreditation?

According to Colleges and diplomas, loss of accreditation means loss of government money.

“The vast majority of these schools rely heavily on financial aid and the immediate withdrawal of all government funds ensures that the school will go bankrupt quickly,” the site said.

“In addition, these students will have difficulty finding admission to another school to complete their degree or program if their school closes due to a loss of accreditation.”

In addition, many employers “just don’t hire graduates from unlicensed schools.”

While the AAUP sanction does not affect NU accreditation per se, the AAUP section chair agrees that it should trigger a WASC investigation.

“I don’t know of anyone who has contacted WASC to request an investigation,” said section chief Alex Zukas. “It can happen, although, given that it did not take the summary dismissal and termination of contracts of fifty professors without financial demands, I am not sure that the professors have much confidence in the critics. of WASC. “

It is certain, however, that WASC is aware of the situation through press reports.

Zukas said the WASC seems more concerned with protecting failing universities than taking them to task.

He also noted that the NU contact for the most recent WASC review was Joseph hoey, vice-rector for academic services.

Hoey – who did not respond to an email query – is a WASC commissioner – someone who conducts accreditation reviews.

“Also… NU began its draconian actions a month after the favorable WASC report that landed in February 2020,” Zukas said on Friday.

In that 2020 letter, Andrews concluded with: “In particular, I would like to thank Joseph Hoey and his staff, especially Kim Levey, for their tireless dedication to helping make this WSCUC reaffirmation such a success. “

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