NWCCU says governor's interference puts UA's accreditation at risk

UA President Jim Johnsen and UAA Chancellor Dr. Cathy Sandeen field questions from students of the UAA College of Education at a listening session, Feb. 12, 2019 (KTUU)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) president Sonny Ramaswamy was blunt over his concerns about the University of Alaska's viability in a letter submitted to UA's Board of Regents.

Read the letter here.

The main topic this time: the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) proposals for a "step-down" approach it plans to present to the UA Board of Regents tomorrow. The NWCCU calls that idea "strong-arm 'guidance'" that threatens "healthy functioning of an institution of higher learning."

NWCCU says that the OMB's interference in the board's planning and operations may violate its requirements of "an independent and functional Board of Trustees or Regents" which could require the commission to revoke accreditation that could be the "death-knell for the University of Alaska."

It says the board's independence is a "foundational requirement" for the university to continue as an accredited institution and that it will be a factor NWCCU considers in its analysis of "long-term viability" of the university's accreditation.

Outside of potential loss of employment opportunities after graduating, NWCCU also warns that loss of accreditation would effect eligibility for federal scholarships.

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