Continuing a pattern of misdirection, Stephen Jones delivered a rambling, at times factually incorrect speech on BJU’s attempt to gain SACS accreditation at an informal home prayer meeting yesterday evening. These meetings are being held in Greenville-area homes in an attempt to strengthen the University’s image among alumni–and also, apparently, to spread misinformation about BJU’s hopes for regional accreditation.
Among other things, Jones made two easily disputed claims:
1. That BJU’s accreditation with SACS, if and when it is attained, will be retroactive for current students, and
2. That SACS will make their on-campus assessment visit in 2014.
The first statement is plainly incorrect. According to a SACS .pdf, accreditation is retroactive at most to January 1 of the year accreditation is granted. No current or past students of BJU will see any benefits of BJU’s regional accreditation, even if it is ever granted.
The second statement, concerning an official SACS visit in 2014, is shown to be false by consulting SACS’ projected timeline for accreditation approval. According to this .pdf, SACS expects 12-18 months from the time an application has been received from a school in order to allow an official review visit to take place, and another 12 months or so after the visit to complete the decision. Here’s the quote:
The application review process (beginning with receipt of the completed application and ending with authorization of the Candidacy Committee) normally can be accomplished within a period of twelve to eighteen months. The maximum period from the time the initial application is received by the Commission on Colleges to the time that the Candidacy Committee is authorized (either by the President of the Commission or the Committee on Compliance and Reports) should not exceed 18 months. Should the institution not receive authorization for a Candidacy Committee visit within 18 months after submitting its initial application materials, its application may be withdrawn at the discretion of the Commission. Should the institution wish to reapply at a future time, it will be required to submit a new application along with the appropriate application fee. After authorization, the visit of the Candidacy Committee and the subsequent decision of the Committee on Compliance and Reports may take as long as twelve months.
To summarize, Stephen Jones claims that SACS will make its official visit in 2014, although BJU has not even submitted its application yet. SACS itself maintains that it takes up to 18 months from the time the application is submitted to get such a visit, and up to another year after that for any decision to be made.
This incident is typical of how BJU has handled publicity regarding its attempt to secure SACS accreditation: while no verifiable progress has been made by the school toward even submitting its application, it has nonetheless used its intentions with SACS as an advertising tool, at times unethically. Although it seems certain that BJU is making internal changes in order to qualify for SACS, there have been no such announcements, and no application filed; as such, the school is still years away from hearing SACS’ decision, and there is little reason other than the school’s word to believe that that decision will be favorable for the school.
Below is a timeline showing some important events in BJU’s pursuit of SACS, and their deception of prospective students and alumni along the way.
Posts referenced in the timeline:
It’s also possible that Jones’ remarks yesterday evening violate the same SACS regulation which BJU publicly violated last year, the regulation forbidding possible SACS candidates from discussing or advertising their status. Here’s that rule, written again, clear as can be:
“No statement should be made about possible future accreditation status or qualification not yet conferred by the accrediting body. Statements like the following are not permissible: “(Name of institution) has applied for candidacy with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association;”