Accreditation group approves MGSC merger, lifts warning for FVSU

jmink@macon.comDecember 11, 2012 

Some local colleges received good news Tuesday from the agency that gives credentials for higher education in the region.

Middle Georgia and Macon State colleges are a step closer to merging after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges gave the green light for consolidation. Officials also learned that Fort Valley State University will remain accredited after SACS voted to lift a warning it gave the university last year.

It’s positive news for all three institutions. For the future Middle Georgia State College, SACS approval was the final step before the state Board of Regents can authorize the new college to begin operations. The Board of Regents is scheduled to make that decision Jan. 8.

“Many individuals have worked countless hours to bring us to this point in our consolidation effort,” University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in a news release.

Middle Georgia State College, which is scheduled to officially open in January, was one of four consolidation projects in the state that received approval during the SACS annual conference, which was held Monday and Tuesday in Dallas.

As they prepare to merge, Middle Georgia and Macon State colleges are seeking help to tackle a complicated aspect of consolidation -- combining two sets of employees that might have similar job titles but different salaries and workloads, according to a news release.

The two colleges have contracted with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to conduct a workload and compensation study, which will identify salaries that need adjusting. Some salaries might increase or remain frozen for a period of time, but no salaries will decrease, the release stated.

Fort Valley State accreditation affirmed

Meanwhile, Fort Valley State officials are looking to move forward after the university’s accreditation was affirmed by SACS.

“This means that our accreditation now is without qualification of any kind,” Fort Valley State President Larry Rivers said in a news release.

SACS placed Fort Valley State on warning status for a year on Dec. 5, 2011, claiming the university failed to comply with faculty competence, control of finances and federal student aid standards.

At that time, the university said those issues were related to finance office staffing and processes, as well as employee training for the offices of general accounting, financial aid and support services.

SACS made its decision to lift the warning as a response to actions Fort Valley State had taken to correct those concerns, according to a statement from the University System of Georgia.

When the warning was issued, the university already was in the process of reforming those problems, Rivers said.

“We felt confident that, once these reforms had proved their worth, the warning status would be lifted,” he said in the release. “I thank SACS and its leadership for working with us to arrive at this very satisfactory end to the process.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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