USFSP continues to await answers

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) was told last week that it would know exactly why it was put on probation by Monday. Three days later, it is still waiting.

Although the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) did release a report Monday, it does not explain in complete detail how the University failed to uphold two out of 89 accreditation standards.

“We’re still waiting to hear from SACS,” said Holly Kickliter, regional associate vice chancellor for University Relations of USFSP.

The report states that USFSP was placed on probation because SACS expects that within a 12-month period the institution will be able to fix its deficiencies. It also reiterates an important factor: USFSP remains accredited while on probation.

The University now awaits an official letter from SACS, which will be sent to Regional Chancellor Karen White, delineating what actions the commission took.

In June 2006, USFSP was granted initial accreditation, making it autonomous from USF Tampa. USFSP had two years to comply with accreditation standards. The institution was placed on probation June 26 for not meeting two of 89 accreditation standards.

Of all of USF’s branch campuses, USFSP is the first to become an autonomous university in Florida’s state university system.

USF Polytechnic at Lakeland and USF Sarasota-Manatee are both striving for autonomy from USF Tampa. Administrators from both campuses said that USFSP’s hurdle is not a defeat.

“The challenges implied by those aspirations are not trivial. I anticipate that, when all is said and done, the University of South Florida and all of its campuses will prove what we claim: that this is a system of excellence,” said Director of University Advancement of USF Polytechnic David Steele.

Vice President and CEO of USF Sarasota-Manatee Arthur Guilford said that this has not affected their accreditation process in any way other than making them better.

“(Accreditation) is a long and a multiple steps process,” Guilford said. “If in any way I feel we’re not ready for separate accreditation, any application will be withdrawn.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee hopes to submit its final application for separate accreditation by August 2010.