Cheyney Univeristy Of Pennsylvania Maintains Accreditation
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Cheyney University is safe.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education granted the nation’s oldest Black college a reprieve on Friday. The school, located in Delaware County, about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, will face a one-year extension for demonstrating compliance.
The commission released a public disclosure statement explaining the accreditation status and compliance extension saying “because the institution has demonstrated significant progress towards the resolution of its non-compliance issues, is making a good faith effort to remedy existing deficiencies, and a reasonable expectation exists that such deficiencies will be remedied within the period of the extension.”
The school was initially accredited by the MSCHE back in 1951 and was last affirmed accreditation in 2014. The college was put on probation in 2015 by the commission because of a lack of evidence that the school was in compliance with school resources and some issues with leadership and governance.
“We’re pleased that the Middle States Commission recognized the effort that was put forth by Cheyney university staff, faculty, employees, etc. and the external public that assisted us in this process to arrive at this outcome,” said Cheyney University President Aaron A. Walton.
“There’s much work to be done, but we know the path to success,” he added. “This gives us the opportunity to continue to demonstrate the positive direction that Cheyney University is going in. That activity will be reflected in the updated plan that is due to middle states by September 1, 2018.”
Up until Walton, the college had been without a permanent leader since 2014 when former President Michelle R. Howard-Vital retired.
“As the oldest HBCU in the country, Cheyney is an institution with a record of making significant contributions to our commonwealth,” said Gov. Tom Wolf in a statement on Friday. “Since taking office, I worked closely with the state system and its board, specifically Chairwoman Shapira, to create a path forward for Cheyney that allows it to build off of its history, continue as a degree granting institution, and address its financial challenges.”
In addition to concerns regarding leadership, other problems have mounted for the institution. Enrollment dropped around 700 and the college continued to spend more than its revenue.
Additionally, MSCHE’s concerns grew in 2016, when it added planning, resource allocation and institutional renewal, administration and requirement of financial responsibility.
The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education recently named Walton president of Cheyney for a term beginning immediately through June 30, 2021, to ensure stable leadership while the university implements a multi-year financial plan.
Walton had served as Cheyney’s interim president since May, shortly after MSCHE ordered Cheyney to “show cause” as to why its accreditation should not be withdrawn.
Since then, the university has made significant strides, including submitting a detailed operating plan to Middle States that explains, among other things, how it will balance its budget in the future while meeting the educational needs of students.
Last week, the Council of Trustees recommended Walton be named the university’s next president and in accordance with state law, the council conferred with students, faculty and alumni prior to voting on the recommendation.
“When we considered who would be best to ensure the university’s future, it was clear that Aaron Walton is that person,” said Robert W. Bogle, chair of Cheyney University’s Council of Trustees. “I applaud what he has accomplished in just six months, and I can only imagine what he will do with more time.”
Bogle is also the president and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune.
“Today’s decision is a testament to the work of President Walton, Chairman Bogle, acting Chancellor Whitney and all of those who helped Cheyney begin the process of rebuilding,” Wolf said. “There is still work to do but I am confident that we can continue to make progress.”