For the past several months, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has been working with Baylor University to better understand the findings and implications of the Pepper Hamilton review on the status of overall safety and support for students on our campus.
We provided documentation of our procedures, processes and improvements across a wide range of areas. We also noted that almost all of the shortcomings identified by Pepper Hamilton occurred around past practices, the vast majority of which had already been addressed or would be addressed imminently through the implementation of the recommendations.
On Dec. 5, the SACSCOC review group provided a verbal notice of their findings. The University has received a one-year "warning" sanction and SACSCOC will monitor compliance with three core standards: 2.10 The institution provides student support programs, services, and activities consistent with its mission that are intended to promote student learning and enhance the development of its students. (Student support services); 3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics); 3.11.2 The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community. (Institutional environment)
We remain accredited with SACSCOC - and are confident that we will have proven by this time next year that these areas are fully in compliance with SACSCOC guidelines.
"I believe this warning sanction was to be expected given the shortcomings identified, the media exposure and the public release of the Pepper Hamilton findings. We received the lesser of the two sanctions because of the quick action taken in May, when the Findings of Fact and Recommendation documents were published," said David E. Garland, Interim President. "What SACSCOC needed is a longer time period for us to document the effectiveness of the reforms and measures we have taken. Documentation and continued improvement are key. We are committed to ongoing support for our Title IX Office, developing more robust education and prevention programs and continuing to strengthen the oversight and integration of athletics within all aspects of the University. We are confident that the full implementation of significant and broad-ranging improvements will adequately address the SACSCOC concerns."
We will continue to cooperate with SACSCOC and fully implement the Pepper Hamilton Recommendations.
What this means:
The "Warning" sanction is:
The less serious of the two sanctions. Warning is usually, but not necessarily, levied in the earlier stages of institutional review and often, but not necessarily, precedes Probation. It cannot, however, succeed Probation. An institution may be placed on Warning or Probation for noncompliance with any of the Core Requirements or significant noncompliance with the Comprehensive Standards. Additionally, an institution may be placed on Warning for failure to make timely and significant progress toward correcting the deficiencies that led to the finding of noncompliance with any of the Principles of Accreditation. An institution may also be placed on Warning for failure to comply with Commission policies and procedures, including failure to provide requested information in a timely manner. The maximum total time during one monitoring period that an institution may be on Warning is two years.
The three standards we need to demonstrate that we currently are in compliance are:
2.10 The institution provides student support programs, services, and activities consistent with its mission that are intended to promote student learning and enhance the development of its students. (Student support services)
Rationale and Notes
Appropriate student support programs and services apply to undergraduate and graduate programs and enhance the educational development of students at all levels. The expectation is that an institution recognizes this important component of student learning and student development, regardless of placement in the organizational structure, and that, in the context of its mission, the institution provides an appropriate range of support services and programs to students at all locations, including off-campus instructional sites, branch campuses, and those enrolled in distance and correspondence education. (Note: The determination of an institution’s effectiveness for promoting student learning and student development within its mission should be addressed in CS 188.8.131.52.)
3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics)
Rationale and Notes
The institution’s intercollegiate athletics program often influences the institution’s visibility and stature, helps define its image, provides external financial support and often is a major operation with a significant financial impact on the institution. It is important that the institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate and active responsibility for appropriate administrative and financial control of the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program, including the academic standards of athletes.
3.11.2 The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community. (Institutional environment)
Rationale and Notes
An institution has an ethical responsibility to take reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe and secure environment for all campus constituents. A healthy, safe, and secure environment enhances the accomplishment of the institution's mission and contributes to more effective risk management.
1. Why did SACSCOC place Baylor on "Warning" status?
The publicity following the Pepper Hamilton review led SACSCOC to ask Baylor for information about possible non-compliance with accreditation standards. We provided that information, and at the SACSCOC annual meeting in December 2016, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees determined that Baylor was out of compliance with three standards:
2. Why is Baylor considered out of compliance?
There has not yet been enough time for Baylor to demonstrate that the actions taken since the Pepper Hamilton investigation have been effective. SACSCOC wants to see evidence that Baylor's student support services meet students' needs, that Baylor's president has appropriate administrative and fiscal control over the athletics program and that Baylor provides a healthy, safe and secure environment for all campus constituents.
3. What does "Warning" status mean for Baylor?
Warning status gives Baylor time to demonstrate compliance with the three standards by providing evidence that the recently implemented actions to address problems outlined by the Pepper Hamilton review have been effective. In October 2017, a special committee drawn from other universities in the SACSCOC region will visit campus to discuss Baylor’s efforts toward compliance. The special committee will make a recommendation to the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, which will determine whether Baylor has come into compliance on the three standards in December 2017.
4. How does this affect Baylor's decennial reaffirmation of accreditation?
On the recommendation of SACSCOC President Dr. Belle Wheelan and the SACSCOC Vice President assigned to Baylor, Dr. Cheryl Cardell, Baylor is exploring the option of a one-year delay in the reaffirmation of accreditation process in order to illustrate compliance in advance of our next reaccreditation review. If the delay is approved, the onsite committee visit would be delayed until the spring of 2018, with reaffirmation expected in December 2018. Similarly, implementation of Baylor's Quality Enhancement Plan would be delayed for one year.
5. Does this mean Baylor's accreditation is in danger?
Given all of the actions implemented thus far and Baylor’s commitment to continued vigilance with regard to compliance with SACSCOC standards and the Pepper Hamilton recommendations, we do not believe Baylor’s accreditation is in danger.