PDF: UCA Accreditation Report
A report compiled after a recent visit to the University of Central Arkansas by an accreditation team recommended reaccreditation of the university through 2017.
But the report by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools noted concerns about the university’s finances under former president Lu Hardin.
"There is clear evidence that the university’s integrity has been seriously challenged in the 10 years since UCA’s last comprehensive visit," the report states. "... Individuals in leadership, governance and regulatory roles failed to perform with the integrity and professionalism that UCA was entitled to expect. Political expediency, a certain level of favoritism and a good deal of bad judgment were evident for a number of years. Even decisions that will ultimately prove beneficial for UCA were made abruptly, with little or no discussion or consultation."
But the report noted recent changes under President Allen C. Meadors.
"We appreciate the site team’s hard work during their visit and their reaffirmation that we are now addressing the right issues," Meadors said in a statement released by the university. "With the current commitment, I am confident that UCA can address all the issues identified by the site visit team within the timeframe suggested by the Higher Learning Commission."
The report noted how bad financial decisions under Hardin’s leadership left the university without necessary cash reserves. Facility improvements, the purchase of several houses and apartment complexes, and the expense of advancing the university’s athletic program to Division I status left the university without adequate funds.
"These decisions were made by the president, apparently with little consultation of university officers," the report states. The report also cites declining state funding, increased scholarship spending and the "unexpected need to rapidly deploy a new technology enterprise system" as reasons why the university’s cash reserves "dwindled and went negative in 2007."
According to the UCA release, the report also notes "significant accomplishments since the last accreditation visit," noting improvements in the university’s response to its financial crisis, outstanding support provided by the Instructional Development Center to faculty and the university’s "strong and mutually supportive" relationships with the community.
The report also noted the university’s commitment to implementing a long-term strategic plan under Meador’s leadership, which the university had failed to do since the accreditation team’s 2000 visit.
According to the UCA release, "The university has taken steps to develop a strategic plan that will drive the university’s future growth. ... The proposed plan also will focus on the university’s core values, mission, vision and institutional distinctiveness." University officials expect to complete the plan during the 2010-2011 academic year.