Another Baptist college has run afoul of the accrediting agency SACS. In a letter dated July 9. 2014, SACS has alleged non-compliance with their Principles of Accreditation in at least 6 areas and Louisiana College now bears the burden of proving why its membership in SACS should not be withdrawn. They are back on SACS probation.
Here is a link to the full letter from SACS, released by LC today. (LC SACS (here is another version in case the letter happens to disappear from LC’s site).
The six areas with which SACS has a problem are:
PR 1.1 – Principles of Integrity
SACS accuses LC administration of:
- “pervasive culture of avoidance of transparency”
- “conflicting documentation of facts”
- “unauthorized use of restricted funds”
- “forged documents in a submission to SACSCOC”
- Several other misrepresentations of SACSCOC communications
This entire section is troubling to say the least. A Christian school ought to operate with such high standards of integrity that such accusations would be absurd, but that kind of culture evidently did not exist under the Aguillard administration. We can hope that the college will take definitive steps to correct this. This is basic Christianity we are talking about here. Honesty and integrity.
CS 3.3.4 – External Influence
SACS is concerned that the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and in particular its Executive Director, Dr. David Hankins, exerts too much influence over the college.
Jay Adkins has written extensively on this topic.
CS 3.2.9 – Personnel Appointment
SACS observed that a whistleblower (I don’t know which one) was singled out for an interim (and very negative) staff evaluation, after that person had previously received perfect evaluations.
CS 3.2.10 – Administrative Staff Evaluations
Another deeply disturbing charge – that LC submitted at least three staff evaluations with FORGED signatures to SACS and raises the idea that perhaps content was altered in the evaluations, though that is not clear.
CS 3.10.3 – Control of Finances
There are some questions about financial controls, though frankly this is less clear to me than other sections. Maybe some of our accounting experts can explain this better. Issues were raised about the use of restricted (what we call designated) funds, about credit card expenditures, and about control of scholarship accounts.
I’m not sure whether they are seeing misuse here, or just failure to adequately account for expenditures.
FR 4.7 Title IV Program Responsibilities
This has to do with deficiency findings in the administration of the Student Federal Financial Assistance Program. Again, I’m not sure if this is an accusation of malfeasance or just accounting failure. But I’m pretty sure it’s pretty important to comply to the government in financial aid matters.
Frankly, I’d rather watch the Red Sox beat the Good Guys in Pinstripes than wade back into the Louisiana College/Louisiana Baptist Convention nightmare. But this is news and there aren’t many places that Baptists can go to get news these days.
I hope that Louisiana College will admit its mistakes and stop trying to cover up what has happened; stop claiming “exoneration” and simply come clean. Fix the problem. The Board of Trustees has a lot of work to do to restore the credibility of this college.