Accreditation agency plans to visit University of Maryland, request governance details

The Baltimore Sun

The agency responsible for awarding the University of Maryland its accreditation is planning a visit to the College Park campus and has asked the institution to hand over details of its governance.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an unpaid entity tasked with regulating accreditation, confirmed earlier this month it was reviewing the University of Maryland’s accreditation following media reports about the institution’s athletic program over the summer.

Following the death of football player Jordan McNair in June, the university received criticism for its response and saw an upheaval in leadership.

Accreditation is the stamp of approval that allows Maryland students to receive federal financial aid. If the university loses its accreditation, students would no longer be eligible for federal financial aid.

More than two-thirds of students at College Park are offered financial aid each year, with an average package worth $11,813, according to the College Board. About a third of students receive federal loans, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The commission met Nov. 15 and requested additional information from the university. The entity is asking university officials to provide “evidence of a clearly articulated and transparent governance structure that outlines roles, responsibilities, and accountability for decision making by each constituency” — wording that comes directly from the commission’s accreditation standards, spokesperson Brian Kirschner said Monday.

University officials have until March 1 to submit the details of its governance structure. After doing so, the commission will send members to the campus in College Park.

After those steps have been completed, the commission is expected to review all the information at its June 27 meeting.

This is the third time this year that the 29-member Middle States commission, composed of both members of the public and administrators, had requested an information report from the university. The first time was in January, related to reports of a Title IX investigation into sexual assaults. The commission accepted the report in June and took no action.

Two Maryland universities have had their accreditation withdrawn — Baltimore International College and Sojourner-Douglass College.

Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this report.

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