University of Virginia Put on Warning by Accrediting Board

The University of Virginia was sanctioned by its accrediting board today over the failed ouster of the school’s president six months ago.

The Atlanta-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a regional body that accredits higher-education institutions, put the school on warning for a year, President Belle S. Wheelan said from the group’s annual meeting in Dallas.

Teresa Sullivan was forced out as president in June without discussion or a vote by the full board. She was reinstated weeks later after an uproar by faculty and students.

“Being on warning is a public sanction, and it tells the general public that the university has got a problem,” Wheelan said in a telephone interview. “That tends to raise eyebrows” in the world of academics.

The university, based in Charlottesville, was found to be out of compliance over two standards, Wheelan said. The board shouldn’t be controlled by a minority of members and the school should have a policy that defines the role of faculty in governance, she said.

A special committee will do further investigation and will report back to the accreditation board in a year, Wheelan said.

In a letter to parents and alumni, the university called the decision “disappointing” and said it “pledges to work diligently to address the concerns cited by the commission.”

The University of Virginia is still a fully accredited institution and can participate in federal aid programs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janet Lorin in New York jlorin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net.

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