Yes. In its action on June 28, 2019, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education opted not to reaffirm Wells College’s accreditation at this time, so that the College can submit additional materials by Dec. 1, 2019; however, while this process continues, Wells College remains an accredited institution. Wells has up to two years to provide evidence that we have returned into compliance.
Ultimately, the visiting team reported that, in their opinion, Wells currently “does not fully meet the criteria” for Standard VI (“Planning, Resources and Institutional Improvement”) or the 11th Requirement of Affiliation, which is focused on financial documentation, bases of funding, and plans for financial development.
You can read the full criteria at the Middle States website at this link and also read more about Wells College's accreditation ruling at the same website.
Despite all of this difficult feedback, the visiting team conveyed they are fully aware that many private colleges—especially small liberal arts institutions in the Northeast such as ours—face very significant, real, and immediate challenges related to financial stability and student enrollment. But just as we worked together to problem-solve around the feedback from our previous accreditation cycle, we will once again rise to meet this current challenge in the same way.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) "places an institution on probation . . . when, in the Commission's judgment, the institution is not in compliance with one or more Commission standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, or federal compliance requirements, and the non-compliance is sufficiently serious, extensive or substantial that it raises concern about one or more of the following:
The Commission's procedures also state that "a sequence of action is not required (e.g., warning need not precede probation . . . " (See the policies and procedures documents at the Middle States website for more details.)
In order to ensure that an institution has returned to compliance following an action of warning or probation, "the Commission will require a monitoring report and follow-up team visit, and the action will state the required topics to be addressed in the report, and the due date of the report. A follow-up team visit always will follow submission of the monitoring report for a non-compliance action." (See the policies and procedures documents at the Middle States website for more details.)
The typical deadline is anywhere from 6 to 24 months following a commission non-compliance action; in Wells College’s case, the monitoring report is due Dec. 1, 2019. Per the commission’s procedure, the commission will arrange for a follow-up site visit following the submission of the monitoring report.
No. This is not a line of discussion that the board of trustees, the president or the senior leadership are currently evaluating—or have even seriously considered. We strongly believe that the College will ultimately prevail over these short-term obstacles, and are looking into any and all avenues that will lead to the College continuing to fulfill its educational mission.
From the Middle States website: “The Mid-Atlantic Region Commission on Higher Education, doing business as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), was formally incorporated under Pennsylvania Commonwealth law on March 1, 2013. From its origins in 1919 through February 2013, the Commission was a unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Although now an independent corporation, the Commission maintains an ongoing relationship with the Middle States Association.
“The Commission on Higher Education is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to conduct accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) activities for institutions of higher education in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including distance education and correspondence education programs offered at those institutions . . . The commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions.” (Source: https://www.msche.org/about-us/)
The College’s accreditation was last affirmed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in 2014, after Wells submitted a Periodic Review Report (PRR) that was accepted by the Commission. The following year, the Middle States Commission made a substantial change to its procedures and schedules for evaluating colleges and universities. Moving forward, the College will be subject to a Mid-Point Peer Review (MPPR) in 2023, and is scheduled for its next full evaluation visit in the 2026–2027 year.
When an institution is placed on warning or probation by Middle States, the commission may request that it begin preparing a “teach-out” plan that prepares the institution to ensure that its students can complete their studies elsewhere should the commission ultimately withdraw its accreditation.
Just last December, the Middle States Commission approved a new policy about teach-out plans and agreements as part of its overall efforts to revise and update their entire set of policies and procedures; that policy became effective on Jan. 1, 2019. Essentially, any college that appears not to be in compliance is required to submit a teach-out plan to ensure uninterrupted operation, and to push schools to start creating a contingency plan, regardless of the likelihood that such a plan will actually need to be enacted.
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