Penn State is taken off the warning list

Posted: November 17, 2012

Pennsylvania State University got some good news this week: the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found the school in full compliance with requirements and took it off the warning list.

"Our university's accreditation is solid," Penn State president Rodney Erickson told the board of trustees at a meeting Friday afternoon.

It was widely expected that the university's accreditation would stay intact.

The commission gave Penn State a warning in August following a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh's group that found top university administrators conspired to cover up child sex abuse allegations by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. In October, Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

In addition to academic quality, the commission requires universities to meet other standards regarding financial health, adequate board governance, and institutional integrity. The university also must comply with federal laws, such as the Clery Act, which requires that schools provide accurate and timely reports of crime on their campuses. The U.S. Department of Education is looking into the university's record on Clery compliance.

In addition to considering the Freeh report, the commission also issued the warning based on NCAA sanctions that the university accepted July 23 and insufficient evidence that the university was meeting some middle states rules.

A team of Middle States evaluators visited Penn State's campus in mid-October.

Erickson told trustees at their regular monthly meeting that the commission noted the university's "resilience, fiscal stability, and rapid change in the face of numerous challenges." It also cited the university's response to the Freeh report as "thorough, inclusive, systematic, and timely." At the meeting, officials said Penn State had met half of the recommendations in the Freeh report and were close to meeting several others.

The university must give the Middle States Commission a follow-up report in a year, Erickson said.

Also at the meeting, the board affirmed a process for the university's presidential search, which will include input from faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

And it approved a comprehensive code of conduct for athletics. The code does not contain any new rules, according to Frank T. Guadagnino, an outside lawyer assisting the university with the code, but brings existing regulations and rules under one document.

In addition to student athletes, coaches, and other employees, the board of trustees also are subject to the code requirements, Guadagnino said. The university was required under the NCAA agreement to create the comprehensive code, he said.


Contact Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ssnyderinq

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