The only historically Black university in South Florida is hoping to be upgraded from probation to good standing by its accreditation body in June.
Representatives of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges were impressed when they visited the Florida Memorial University campus last week, the Miami Herald reported.
In 2019, the accreditation body placed the university on “monitoring" status for failing to comply with all of its mandatory standards.
“We were very pleasantly surprised at how well the new president and his new staff have turned the institution over,” Michael Hoefer, the accrediting agency's vice president told the newspaper.
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Florida Memorial President Jaffus Hardrick said the process was intense. But, he added, the committee was impressed with the university's transformation.
“It’s exciting to be at our university right now,” he said.
In 2020, the university's “monitoring" status was extended for another year. Last year, after the maximum period allowed to continue under that status expired, the agency lowered the university's ranking to “probation for good cause."
Ahead of the committee's visit, the university submitted a 263-page report documenting its progress on key issues, including enrollment and financial responsibility.
The university's enrollment peaked at 1,878 in 2012, but had seen a steady decline to 915 students in 2021. This year, enrollment rose to 963.
Due to declining enrollment, the FMU Board of Trustees borrowed funds from its endowment to continue operating, the Herald reported. Since then, they have increased both enrollment and new revenue streams to improve the school's financial health.
The university has also reduced salaries of more than 80 employees who make $60,000 a year and above, discontinued 18 undergraduate degree programs and eliminated 15 faculty positions.
They also received 10,431 applications for the upcoming fall semester, compared to 3,279 last year, the newspaper reported. They have accepted 7,618 student application as of last week, but not all will enroll at the school, officials said.
The university has added a healthcare program, a Social Justice Institute, a Department of Innovation, Technology and Entertainment. It plans to open a cybersecurity tech hub, a center for entrepreneurship and add degrees in sports management, computer and electrical engineering. and a master of arts in teaching and a doctorate in educational leadership.
The final decision will be made in June during a meeting of the accreditation body's board of trustees, which is comprised of 77 administrators and academics from other colleges and universities.
Hoefer, the accreditation body’s vice president, told the Herald the site committees typically write a report at the end of their visit, sharing as much information as possible with the board of trustees.
“The board is the group that makes the decision, but usually they rely very heavily on the committee’s report,” he said.