The University of Maryland’s accreditation remains under review as an oversight agency seeks additional information about the state flagship school’s leadership after turmoil enveloped the campus last month.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education had already sought additional information from U-Md. in August after football player Jordan McNair died following a team workout and after media reports of problems within the football program. That request focused on two of the commission’s required standards: the student experience, and ethics and integrity. The university responded in September.
But before the commission met to review that response in November, a leadership crisis erupted. The University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced that the football coach and the athletic director would remain at U-Md., and the school’s president, Wallace D. Loh, said at the same news conference that he would retire — decisions that upset many political and campus leaders, who thought the regents had vastly overstepped their authority. The following day, Loh defied the regents and announced that football coach DJ Durkin was leaving U-Md. The Board of Regents chairman resigned the next day.
As a result of those events, the commission requested a second “supplemental information report,” due in March, “providing evidence of a clearly articulated and transparent governance structure that outlines roles, responsibilities, and accountability for decision making by each constituency.” Once that report is submitted, the accrediting agency will visit the university and meet in June.
At its November meeting, the results of which were made public Monday, the commission had several options. It chose to request the supplemental report, but it also could have taken no further action, or declared that the school was not in compliance with the accrediting agency’s rules and put the institution on warning or probation, or launched the process in which an institution needs to show why its accreditation should not be withdrawn, according to Brian Kirschner, a spokesman for the agency.
Accreditation is critical to universities, because it is the quality assurance that the Education Department requires for a school to be eligible for federal student financial aid funding.
Katie Lawson, a spokeswoman for U-Md., referred questions to the University System of Maryland. She said the university would not have anything to add beyond Loh’s remarks to lawmakers this month.
Loh told lawmakers at a Nov. 15 meeting that he perceived the regents’ actions as circumventing his authority.