Education

After a year in limbo, Johnson C Smith University gets its accreditation affirmed

Johnson C. Smith celebrates 150 years

President Ronald L. Carter speaks as Johnson C. Smith University kicked off it's 150th opening of school with a Sesquicentennial Kick-off Celebration Monday, August 16, 2016.
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President Ronald L. Carter speaks as Johnson C. Smith University kicked off it's 150th opening of school with a Sesquicentennial Kick-off Celebration Monday, August 16, 2016.

After a year on probation based on financial questions, Johnson C. Smith University was reaffirmed this week as a fully accredited school.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an Atlanta-based accrediting agency for 11 Southern states, took that action on Tuesday, according to a statement from the commission.

In December 2017, when JCSU was up for renewal, that body neither renewed nor revoked accreditation. Instead, citing concerns about financial stability and control, the commission put the historically black university in uptown Charlotte on probation and said it would reconsider after a campus visit in fall of 2018, the Observer reported at the time.

“We are gratified the quality of our educational programs, faculty and leadership has again been recognized and that our accreditation has been reaffirmed,” university President Clarence Armbrister, who took over leadership earlier this year, wrote in a statement issued by JCSU.

The university’s statement said the commission also terminated JCSU’s probation.

Under Armbrister’s predecessor, former President Ron Carter, the federal government ordered JCSU to pay back $1.8 million in student aid that auditors said the university received in violation of government regulations. The Observer reported on that and other financial challenges in 2016.

In October 2017, shortly before Carter turned over leadership to Armbrister, he reported that JCSU had exceeded its $150 million fund-raising goal, an achievement that Carter said at the time demonstrated that the school was not in financial crisis.

The private university has 1,565 students this year. Maintaining accreditation is important, the university statement says, because “it confirms the quality and integrity of institutions and their programs and permits students to access federally subsidized financial aid.”

Ann Doss Helms has covered education for the Observer since 2002, long enough to watch a generation of kids go from preK to college. She is a repeat winner of the North Carolina Press Association’s education reporting award.


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