Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 11, 2012

MSU interim president says school has changed

BECKLEY —  Mountain State University is a different institution than it was a year ago when problems put its general accreditation in jeopardy, interim President Richard Sours said.

Sours recently sent an email to the Mountain State community saying the school has implemented several changes. They include a new administrative structure, smaller teaching loads and and new planning processes, The Register-Herald  reported.

“It is completely appropriate to use the phrase ‘The New MSU’ when describing our university today,” Sours wrote.

Mountain State is awaiting a decision on whether it will keep its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Last year, the commission placed the school on a “show-cause” status, citing shortcomings in governance, leadership and faculty.

A group of officials from the private Beckley university met in May with a panel of five trustees of the commission in Chicago. A decision is expected in July.

“Part of our objective in making that presentation was to convince them that we are a completely different institution than the one they encountered a year ago and decided to place on Show Cause” Sours wrote in his email.

Sours said Mountain State officials believe that the school is now in compliance with the commission’s requirements and that it will keep its accreditation. But they are prepared to appeal through the commission’s internal appeal process if it withdraws the accreditation.

Mountain State already has lost accreditation for its nursing program. In March, its diagnostic medical sonography associate degree program was placed on probation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Mountain State’s Board of Trustees fired former President Charles Polk in January and took over operations. Sours was named interim president in March.

“We’ve taken a hit in the media and we’ve lost some credibility. We have to rebuild and it’s not an overnight fix. We have to consistently behave in a different way and keep doing it over time so people regain the trust in the university that we need. I’m optimistic that we will do that,” Sours wrote.

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