NOTE: I publish this as a newsworthy story about a Georgia Baptist College. This is not a springboard for a foodfight about the president of the college or others who work there. The focus is the accreditation of BPC and nothing else. Eyes on the ball, folks.
On June 19. 2014, the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) voted to strip Brewton-Parker College of its membership in the organization. Sometime in the last few weeks, BPC went before the Appeals Committee to present new evidence that they were bringing the college into compliance in those areas where concern had been raised (primarily, as I understand it, having to do with financial viability). It was the duty of the appeals committee to decide whether the new evidence warranted a rehearing of the case before the Board of Trustees.
Today, the Appeals Committee remanded the case back to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees to rehear the case. So, at some point in the future, Brewton-Parker College will get to take their case before SACSCOC one more time. Here are a few random thoughts about this decision.
1) Make no mistake about it – this is very good news for BPC.
Had they been denied appeal, they would have lost accreditation, and immediately as I understand it. While there were other options, a college losing SACS accreditation would be disastrous and the consequences would be extreme. So, getting another chance to make their case is very good news for Brewton-Parker. No question.
And, in the meantime, they keep their probationary status – they are still accredited while the process goes forward. I’m sure that a few sighs of relief could be heard in Mount Vernon, Georgia, when that decision came down.
2) The story is not over.
Brewton-Parker has not won their case. They remain on probation. According to an article in Associated Baptist Press, the process is as follows:
The case now goes to a committee on compliance and reports, which in turn will make recommendation to the Executive Council. The council then will make a recommendation to the board of trustees.
All Brewton-Parker has won is the right to make its case again, before the same group that recommended it be expelled from membership earlier. The battle is not over for them. I don’t know where the burden of proof lies here, but from what I read, BPC may have some burden to show that the previous decision should be reversed. I also do not know if they receive a full rehearing of the case or if they only get to present their new evidence to see if it changes anything. Perhaps that is a decision made by the committee on compliance.
The SACSCOC meeting is December 6-9 in Nashville, but I don’t know if that when the case will be heard.
3) What is NOT known – is the evidence enough?
Brewton-Parker is brimming with confidence that it can make its case for membership and that the action of the SACSCOC BoT will be reversed. Since I’ve not seen their evidence and am not competent to judge it if I had it, I will not give an opinion as to whether that confidence is solid or misplaced. Brewton-Parker now must make the case that they are financially stable and viable and hope the new evidence is enough to convince SACSCOC to change its mind. None of us really knows what will happen then.
4) The status is quo.
Essentially, what this decision does is take the case back to June 18 of this year. BPC is on probation and must demonstrate that it deserves to be taken off probation. They have not been vindicated or “acquitted” (to use a slightly inaccurate metaphor), but they have been granted a new trial. They must present the evidence and hope SACSCOC sees it their way. Everything reverts to the way it was prior to the June 19, 2014 declaration.
Again, this is definitely good news for Brewton-Parker. The decision handed down on June 19 made things bleak for BPC. Now, they’ve another chance at the plate.