Citadel Accreditation Pursued After Board Chairman Abruptly Resigned | News

Citadel accreditors launched an investigation into the school, citing concerns about possible political influence after the chairman’s sudden resignation three weeks ago.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools opened an accreditation survey for the state military college that focuses on the treatment given to former school council president Fred Price Jr.

Price resigned on September 9 after being criticized for a controversial new policy of transferring most second-year students to a different company than the one they were in during the first year.

Policy advocates said it was a measure to contain the hoax and increase cadets’ leadership opportunities.

The move was met with some criticism, including from state senator Stephen Goldfinch, a Republican from Murrells Inlet and a Citadel graduate. He argued that it was an unnecessary break from a long-standing tradition and would hinder the formation of united students during the strenuous first year.

The Citadel will shuffle second-year cadets next year.  Some alumni are not happy about this.

Goldfinch had threatened with legislative action that would essentially have forced Price from his post had he not voluntarily resigned.

In a letter to the Visitors Council, the Goldfinch accused Price of failing to adequately convey the discontent of former students with the so-called “second-year confusion”.

He demanded that Price resign as chairman of the board, even writing a letter of resignation for him to sign.

Price refused to sign the letter, but announced his resignation on a state legislative panel in early September.

He was running for office without opposition and had previously received approval from the same panel earlier this year.

As a result of the accreditation investigation, school leaders must provide a report that explains and documents how the school is still in compliance with certain standards under review. Issues include standards related to the characteristics of the board of directors, protocol for dismissing board members and external influence.

It should also address the council’s self-assessment and whether the college offers a safe campus environment.

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Citadel President Glenn Walters is required to complete and submit the school report by October 30.

The authorities responded to the investigation noting that the review was caused by the conduct of someone outside the government.

“I am sure that General Walters will respond appropriately; however, it is worrying that the conduct of individuals separated from the institution puts the administration in the uncomfortable position of having to respond to such an inquiry,” said interim President Myron Harrington in a statement.

The board “will continue to perform our duties as outlined in our commitment to ethics, with the intention of preserving and improving our college’s standards and reputation,” Harrington wrote.

Harrington invited the Governing Body Association to make a presentation on best governance practices during the board meeting in October.

Citadel dean Sally Selden discussed the investigation with board members during a meeting on Wednesday.

Selden said he is not concerned about the school’s ability to meet standards under scrutiny because the board “has taken no action in response to pressure from Senator Goldfinch for Colonel Price to step down.”

The loss of accreditation means that schools cannot offer federal financial aid to students.

“It would be extremely serious to lose our regional accreditation,” said Selden. “It would be devastating for the institution, frankly.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools opened a similar review process last year, centered on Governor Henry McMaster’s role in pushing to hire the new president of the University of South Carolina, Robert Caslen.

Accreditors will interview the university’s leadership in a week to determine whether the school needs further investigation.

The Citadel is likely to receive a response to its report when the Southern College Association and the College Schools Commission meets next December.

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Contact Jenna Schiferl at 843-937-5764. Follow her on Twitter at @jennaschif.