On June 21, 2017, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) placed HPU on Warning status for 12 months, based on concerns arising from HPU’s efforts to launch a pre-licensure nursing program. While we take the SACSCOC action seriously, recent media reports have generated some concern, and I am taking this opportunity to share more details and address specific issues.
What is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges?
SACSCOC is one of six regional accrediting bodies in the United States. These organizations accredit the entire operation of colleges and universities, not individual majors or academic programs within colleges or universities. Membership in SACSCOC is voluntary and compliance with all regulations is verified through a peer-review process. The Board of Trustees of SACSCOC is comprised predominantly of college and university presidents. Howard Payne University was first accredited by SACSCOC on January 1, 1948, and has remained so ever since, with most recent reaffirmation of accreditation in December 2014.
How close is HPU to losing accreditation?
We are confident that we will be able to maintain our accreditation and are taking the necessary steps to ensure our standing with SACSCOC. Although any of the regional accrediting bodies may remove an institution from its membership at any time for serious noncompliance with the accreditor’s rules and regulations, the normal process by which SACSCOC would remove an institution from membership would be following a monitoring period of 12, 24 or even 36 months. During such time, an institution could be on Warning, Probation or Continued for Good Cause. Following a review of the post-licensure nursing program in September 2016, during its regular board meeting in June 2017 SACSCOC placed HPU on Warning for 12 months and requested the university clarify specific issues that occurred during the recent attempt to introduce a pre-licensure nursing program.
SACSCOC’s Public Disclosure Statement regarding HPU is available at
Information about SACSCOC’s Sanction Policy is available at http://sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SanctionPolicy.pdf.
What is the status of students’ accumulated coursework?
Howard Payne University is accredited by SACSCOC to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate and master levels. Accordingly, all academic credit earned is recognized as having this status.
What does this mean for our new and returning students moving forward?
HPU remains accredited. Classes will commence on August 21 as planned.
What are the next steps?
HPU has already begun addressing the concerns of SACSCOC. A thorough narrative will be drafted that includes evidence that documents the university’s assertion of ongoing compliance. This report will be forwarded to a visiting committee that will review the specific nursing issues stated in SACSCOC’s notification letter on-site prior to April 2018.
What are the future plans for HPU’s nursing program?
HPU has employed a new dean of nursing who is preparing a new proposal to the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) for a pre-licensure nursing program. The university looks forward to meeting all the requirements of the TBON in this process.
Integrity and rigorous academic standards have been hallmarks of HPU’s identity since its founding in 1889 and will continue to be as the university moves forward. Recognition of HPU’s academic credibility is vital to the health of our institution, and we remain committed as always to ensuring the university’s good standing. We will continue to cooperate fully with SACSCOC and I am confident we will address the organization’s concerns well before the April site visit.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Howard Payne University. I join with you in looking forward to a positive, healthy 2017-2018 academic year and beyond.
Dr. Bill Ellis
(Posted July 27, 2017; updated July 28, 2017)