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The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Sister university under year-long warning for accreditation

The Universidad de las Americas, which has come under scrutiny for the closure and subsequent reopening of its newspaper, is garnering more unwanted attention. TCU’s sister university has been placed under a yearlong warning by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the agency that accredits both UDLA and TCU.

SACS, an American agency that accredits universities in 11 U.S. states and Latin America, gave the university its warning when UDLA filed a follow-up report after a 2005 affirmation of its accreditation.

According to SACS documents, UDLA was sanctioned for its violation of two SACS Core Requirements: one prohibiting a governing board controlled by a minority of board members and one requiring demonstrated financial stability.

SACS adviser Jack Allen, however, said the measure isn’t necessarily a threat to the university.

“Most colleges work their way out of this,” he said.

SACS posted its decision in a one-page document on its Web site but declined to disclose any further information on the sanction.

According to SACS documents, UDLA’s first violation has to do with its governing board.

Professor emeritus and UDLA historian Edward Simmen said UDLA differs from American universities in that it has a Patronato, a governing body that has veto power over its board of trustees.

UDLA board member Neil Lindley said the Patronato’s six members are part of the Jenkins family, a Puebla, Mexico, family that controls the Fundacion Mary Street Jenkins, a foundation that has provided the majority of UDLA’s funds over the last few decades.

“We, as board members, don’t have the power that it may appear to some people,” Lindley said. “… There are some of us that are of the view that there should be a diversified board and that the control should be in the hands of a diverse board of professional educators and supporters – of people who actually understand higher education and are committed to its quality.”

SACS documents relate the second violation to UDLA’s inability to demonstrate financial stability.

Allen said UDLA will be asked to submit a follow-up report in December, at which point SACS will determine whether the warning will be removed, its sanctions heightened to probation or its accreditation dropped.

Rudolph Jackson, vice president of the SACS Commission on Colleges, said UDLA will be hosting a team of SACS evaluators in April. The evaluation will be part of a portfolio of information that the agency will use in its December decision.

Bonnie Melhart, TCU associate provost for Academic Affairs, said the warning may or may not be a threat.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Melhart said. “If your accreditation gets taken away, then it’s a big deal. And, of course, any institution doesn’t want to be on warning because it means that you are headed down a path you don’t want to go.”

UDLA officials said the problems would be addressed.

“As usual in any accreditation process, UDLA has recommendations and time to respond to them,” said Enrique Silva, UDLA innovation and planning director. “UDLA has attended to all of the re-accreditation recommendations and has sent all of the required documentation. At the moment, we have a group working on the last recommendations we have pending.”

Silva did not return e-mails requesting information on which recommendations UDLA has addressed and which are pending.

News editor Andrew Chavez contributed to this report.

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