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College of DuPage accreditation under review due to recent controversies

In recent months, College of DuPage administrators and faculty have stressed that the controversies surrounding the school have not affected its academics.

Now, its accreditation is under review because of the turmoil.

The college received a letter May 5 from the Higher Learning Commission, which is the school's accreditation agency, stating that College of DuPage had been placed under review.

"Commission policy on Special Monitoring ... allows the Commission President to approve the scheduling of special monitoring for an institution when it is undergoing 'serious legal, financial, or ethical investigations,'" Commission President Barbara Gellman-Danley stated.

She cited several items and media reports in the letter to school President Robert Breuder, who has been placed on paid leave. Included are "federal civil and criminal investigations related to institutional finances, ethics violations and changes to assigned credit hours for courses offered through the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy."

Commission officials will visit with the college's trustees and president – likely interim Joe Collins – and determine whether it is in compliance with several Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components, such as if the school's "educational responsibilities take primacy over other purposes, such as generating financial returns for investors." The commission will also look at the Board of Trustees' independence, ethics and policy adherence and cohesion.

The review is scheduled for June 29 to 30, according to a news release from the college.

"While I am confident that the College fully meets the HLC criteria for accreditation, I understand the need for the HLC to conduct an advisory visit," Collins said in a statement. "We will cooperate completely with the visiting team to ensure they have an accurate view of who we are and what we do."

Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said in a statement the association was concerned about the visit, but confident in the school's core mission of teaching and learning.

Board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton said during a special meeting May 14 the board was "equal of any task that the advisory commission will put in front of us."

"With transparency, intelligence and energy, we will address any of their concerns successfully and we will work with them to solve any issues that they might have," she said.


Areas of compliance the commission will evaluate

• "The institution's educational responsibilities take primacy over other purposes, such as generating financial returns for investors, contributing to a related or parent organization, or supporting external interest"

• "The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions, it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behaviors on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff"

• "The governing board preserves its independence from undue influence that would not be in the best interest of the institution"

• "The institution's degree programs are appropriate to higher education"

• "The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs"

• "The governing board is knowledgeable about the institution; it provides oversight of the institution's financial and academic policies and practices and meets its legal and fiduciary responsibilities."

Source: Higher Learning Commission

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