Florida Memorial University seeks to regain status in good standing | Florida News
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — South Florida’s only historically black university hopes to be upgraded from probation to good standing by its accrediting body in June.
Representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges were impressed when they toured the Florida Memorial University campus last week, the Miami Herald reported. In 2019, the accrediting body placed the university in “overwatch” status for failing to meet all of its mandatory standards.
“We were very pleasantly surprised at how much the new president and his new staff have transformed the institution,” Michael Hoefer, vice president of the accreditation agency, told the newspaper.
Florida Memorial President Jaffus Hardrick said the process was intense. But, he added, the committee was impressed with the university’s transformation.
“It’s exciting to be at our university right now,” he said.
In 2020, the university’s “supervision” status was extended for one year. Last year, after the maximum period allowed to continue under that status expired, the agency lowered the university’s ranking to “probation for a good cause.”
Ahead of the committee’s visit, the university submitted a 263-page report documenting its progress on key issues, including enrollment and financial accountability.
Enrollment at the university peaked at 1,878 in 2012, but has seen a steady decline to 915 students in 2021. This year, enrollment has risen to 963.
Due to declining enrollment, the FMU board has borrowed funds from its endowment to continue operating, the Herald reported. Since then, they have increased both enrollment and new revenue streams to improve the school’s financial health.
The university also cut the salaries of more than 80 employees who earn $60,000 a year and more, halted 18 undergraduate degree programs and eliminated 15 faculty positions.
They also received 10,431 applications for the upcoming fall semester, up from 3,279 last year, the newspaper reported. They accepted applications from 7,618 students last week, but not all of them will enroll in the school, officials said.
The university added a health care program, a social justice institute, a department of innovation, technology and entertainment. It plans to open a cybersecurity technology hub, an entrepreneurship center and add degrees in sports management, computer science and electrical engineering. and a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Doctorate in Instructional Leadership.
The final decision will be made in June at a meeting of the accrediting body’s board of directors, made up of 77 administrators and scholars from other colleges and universities.
Hoefer, the accrediting body’s vice president, told the Herald that site committees typically write a report at the end of their visit, sharing as much information as possible with the board.
“The board is the group that makes the decision, but usually it relies very heavily on the committee report,” he said.
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