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Probation lifted, Norfolk State maintains full accreditation with SACSCOC

Interim President and CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr. of Norfolk State University (Photo from Norfolk State University)

Interim President and CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr. of Norfolk State University spoke with the Spartan Echo right after hearing the news from SACSCOC on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo from Norfolk State University)

by Danielle Kirsh

Norfolk State University’s probation was finally lifted on Tuesday, Dec. 8, by NSU’s accrediting agency the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Interim President and CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr. was informed shortly after noon and spoke to the Spartan Echo immediately afterward.

“We are off of probation,” Moore told the Echo in a phone interview.

“I feel very good. I wanted you to know,” Moore told the Echo. “I called you first.”

“I’m particularly grateful for the students who stayed with us,” Moore said. Moore also thanked students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Norfolk State for their support.

“We were able to accomplish what we set out to do,” Moore said.  “We’re really excited.” Moore expects that the lifting of the probation will help increase enrollment at Norfolk State.

The SACSCOC Special Committee visited Norfolk State University Oct. 13-15. The committee confirmed the contents of the university’s Second Monitoring Report that was submitted to SACSCOC in September.

“They did provide a report to us as requested,” said SACSCOC President Dr. Belle S. Wheelan. The outcome of the Committee’s assessment was that there were no recommendations for Norfolk State University based on their review – the best possible outcome for NSU.

After SACSCOC completed their visit in Oct., they reviewed all of the information they received at their annual meeting in Houston on Dec. 8, where they decided the fate of Norfolk State and President Moore heard the news for the first time.

NSU was placed on probation for 12 months in Dec. 2014 until they were able to fix some of the things that were below SACSCOC standards as outlined in their Principles of Accreditation.

Some of the 12 things NSU was required to fix included problems with administration, governance and finances.

“We expect all of our members to be in compliance with all of our standards at all times,” said Wheelan.

Since the probation was lifted, Wheelan said that means all problems have been corrected at Norfolk State University.

“It means they are in compliance with all of our standards and have no cloud hanging over their head,” said Wheelan.

SACSCOC first began their investigation in the spring 2013 semester after financial audits were not completed for two consecutive years. Following that news, the Virginia Board of Nursing barred new students from enrolling in the associate degree program at NSU after too many students were failing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). By fall 2013, the associate degree nursing program was discontinued.

In Aug. 2013, NSU’s Board of Visitors voted to fire President Tony Atwater and bring in Interim President and CEO Eddie N. Moore, Jr. who was previously president of Virginia State University and had an extensive background in finance management with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

By the end of 2013, SACSCOC held their annual meeting where they decided to give NSU a warning, stating that if they didn’t fix the outlined problems they would be placed on probation. With the lifting of the probation, SACSCOC says NSU is in compliance with all of the accreditation standards and will not face more investigation because of past problems.

“They will not be reviewed until their regular schedule for review occurs,” Wheelan said of NSU. “Their next review will not be any more rigorous because of past issues.”

Norfolk State has been fully and continuously accredited since it first became eligible for accreditation in 1969. “Today’s news ensures that Norfolk State will continue toward improvement, growth and a culture of assessment,” said Moore. “Norfolk State University has emerged a much stronger institution; an institution well-positioned for a brighter future.”

In closing his interview with the Echo, Moore was asked if he wanted to stay on as President of Norfolk State.  “If the BOV [Norfolk State’s Board of Visitors] wants me,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”