Accreditation warning letter headed to UNC

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has sent UNC-Chapel Hill a warning letter about its accreditation status in the wake of the Wainstein Report.

SACS President Dr. Belle Wheelan confirmed Thursday that the letter is in the mail, and should be received in a matter of days.

Wheelan would not reveal the contents of the letter, and SACS is not subject to public records laws.

SACS said in October it was reviewing the Wainstein Report and would be notifying the University of any core value violations. UNC will then have 30 days to respond and detail any course of action they are taking to correct those violations.

When asked about the accreditation review, UNC Provost Jim Dean told ABC11, "The entire university should not be punished for the academic fraud that went on for nearly 20 years."

"During that period of time that the report represents, we had about 97,000 students and about 3,000 of those students were engaged at the most in this activity," said Dean. "So as bad as it was, to say that it represents the whole university is pretty disingenuous."

SACS, which has 804 institutions under its jurisdiction, has a lengthy list of core values upon which it bases its accreditation. The SACS board meets in December and June, but the executive council does have the power to act outside of those two meetings if circumstances warrant.

In Jan. 2013, UNC was put on notice by SACS when the AFAM scandal first surfaced. SACS sent a strongly worded letter advising UNC to take immediate actions to pull itself into compliance accreditation standards. Eighteen months later, SACS said the school had a reform plan in place and would retain its accreditation.

The Wainstein report "will be treated as a completely new issue", Wheelan said. "Right now, UNC is fully accredited, nothing has changed and nothing will change until the board has acted."

Once SACS completes its review and UNC responds, it will be up to the association to either put UNC on warning, on probation, or drop the school from membership

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