Michigan’s Only HBCU Likely to Lose Accreditation - Higher Education
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Michigan’s Only HBCU Likely to Lose Accreditation

by Margaret Kamara


Lewis College of Business, the only historically Black college in Michigan, has been given a one-month extension before its accreditation is removed by the Higher Learning Commission. The college’s original deadline was June 30.

Steven Crow, president of the HLC, says the extension was given so the college can complete the rest of its summer semester.

When a college loses accreditation, its students can no longer receive federal financial aid and their credits cannot be transferred to a different institution. And most graduate institutions and employers will not recognize a degree from an unaccredited college.

According to a letter posted on Lewis’ Web site and signed by interim president Violet E. Ponders, the college “does not believe the HLC decision to withdraw its accreditation is ‘just’ or serves the community.”

The decision to strip the two-year college of its accreditation, according to the public disclosure notice posted on the commission’s Web site, was made because the college failed to meet two of its Criteria of Accreditation: leadership and evidence that it can respond to future challenges.

“It’s sort of puzzling to us that the areas they have concern with seem to be the subjective areas,” Lewis’ dean and chief academic officer Deolis Allen Jr. is quoted as saying in the Detroit Free Press.

The college has been fighting to retain accreditation through a letter campaign, and held a community meeting last Sunday, the day before Ponders traveled to Chicago to appeal the decision.

Crow, however, says the appeal is a long shot, and he says the college should have been trying to contest the decision months ago.

“I think the college was slow in sharing the information [with its community],” he says. “They knew about the decision since the first week of April, and they just reached out to the community on the eve of the appeal. They have an argument but not enough for it to be accredited.”

According to Crow, a decision on the fate of the college was reached at the appeal meeting, and will be announced after it is finalized.

Other institutions that have lost their accreditations under HLC include the Native American Education Services in Chicago, and Shorter College in North Little Rock, Ark. Like Lewis, both institutions were geared towards serving minorities. But Crow says it’s not indicative of a larger pattern.

“I am not happy when our small traditional institutions fall into hard times,” he says, “but I am not responsible, the institutions itself is, the accrediting institute can only step in to see if a school should stay accredited.”

Several attempts were made to reach Ponders and Allen, but the calls were not immediately returned.

–Margaret Kamara


An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the other schools that lost its accreditation. The story should have listed Shorter College in North Little Rock, Ark. as one of the other institutions that lost its accreditation.

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