By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
The board of directors of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) notified Interim President and CEO Eddie N. Moore Jr. on December 8 that Norfolk State University has satisfied all of the agency’s accreditation concerns and voted to remove NSU from the probation status.
Moore received the news while attending the SACSCOC annual meeting in Houston, Texas.
According to Pamela Cravey, a spokesperson for SACSCOC, the 77-member board voted to remove the probationary sanction which was placed on the HBCU last December.
“Today’s news ensures that Norfolk State will continue toward improvement, growth and a culture of assessment,” said Moore in making the announcement on Tuesday (Dec. 8).
“Norfolk State University has emerged a much stronger institution; an institution well-positioned for a brighter future,” said Moore, who also thanked students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Norfolk State for their support.
A SACSCOC Special Committee visited Norfolk State University October 13-15. The committee confirmed the contents of the university’s Second Monitoring Report that was submitted to SACSCOC in September. The outcome of the Committee’s assessment was that there were no recommendations for Norfolk State University based on their review – the best possible outcome for NSU.
School officials and supporters feared that another round of sanctions would have further eroded its standing, during a year when the school was observing its 80th anniversary.
Norfolk State University was continued in accreditation and placed on probation because the SACSCOC Board of Trustees determined that it had failed to demonstrate compliance with governance, financial management, the standing of various academic programs and inability to pass several financial audits.
NSU passed the most recent audit, state officials announced, several weeks ago.
The probation was placed on the school on December 18, 2014. The school had one year to comply with all of the issues the agency cited in its assessment of the school’s programs.
The sanction has cast a shadow over the state’s largest HBCU.
There was a shortfall in the Fall 2015 enrollment and the school had to reduce staff and faculty.
SACS’s decision may have also answered many questions about the school leadership, especially the future of Moore as its leader.
“This is wonderful,” said Rev. Anthony Paige, a member of the Norfolk Pastor’s Coalition, which has launched an effort to support the school and is urging school officials to reach out more to the community.
“I commend Dr. Moore and his staff for achieving this goal,” said Paige, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Lambert’s Point. “But the SACS’s situation is not the only thing NSU has to satisfy at this point. NSU has to regain its credibility and stature so that families will be confident enough to send their children to that school. We want that school to remain Norfolk State University and not Norfolk Community College.”
The Pastor’s Coalition held a rally at Second Calvary Baptist Church on November 19 to allow the community to voice its concerns about the school. The audience was filled with NSU alumni.
Rev. Geoffrey Guns, Pastor of Second Calvary, is the chairman of the Coalition which as of now consists of local Baptist churches.
“I am excited about this news. I commend the university and its leadership,,” Guns said. “This sends the right message. The community needs to understand the ramifications of the impact of the sanctions on student enrollment.
“Enrollment means dollars, which equals programs for the students,” Guns said. “We have encouraged the churches and individuals to help fund scholarships and encourage our children to attend NSU.
Businessman and NSU graduate Ulysses Turner attended that November gathering.
“The Commission’s decision indicates that Dr. Moore has done an exemplary job, in dealing with finances and budgetary issues,” said Turner. “I applaud him. However much more work needs to be done.
“We will need to focus on enrollment, establish a closer relationship with the community to keep the stakeholders more informed so they can assist with the school’s achieving its goals and mission,” he said.
“I am delighted. Now we can focus on getting our act together in so many areas,” said Dr. Cassandra Newby Alexander, the Chair of the NSU Faculty Senate. “We can now focus on our strengths and work on relegating better resources for the students. Further, I hope this news will help us with our enrollment which has fallen. I hope now that we can promote the work of our faculty and staff. who are a very dynamic group of people.”
Virginia State Delegate Lionell Spruill of Chesapeake said that the news vindicates his efforts to recruit Moore to NSU to help fix many of the fiscal and academic ills the school faced.
‘This is good news. We passed the audits and now we have good news on the accreditation,” said Spruill. “I have heard that he ( Moore) wants to be named the president of the university. I think this news may help his case in the view of the Board of Visitors.”