Scott County

Georgetown College’s probation to continue for another year

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges extended Georgetown College’s probation.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges extended Georgetown College’s probation. File Photo

Georgetown College’s year-long probation will continue for another year.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the accrediting agency for the private, liberal arts Scott County college, extended its probation last week, according to documents posted on its website.

The probation will continue because the college failed to comply with the association’s guidelines on “financial resources and stability.”

Last June, the college was put on probation for 12 months because of its non-compliance with financial standards. In a letter posted on the college website at the time, Georgetown President Dwaine Greene wrote that the college suffered “huge enrollment declines” in 2012 and 2013 that led to budget deficits.

In 2014, facing a $4 million budget deficit, the college cut faculty and dropped some majors. At that time, the accreditation association put the college on a two-year warning, which ended last year. A warning is usually, but not necessarily, issued before a probation.

Greene said he was disappointed in the accreditation decision, but “we are certainly not disheartened. Georgetown has been moving through a necessary renewal process over the past four years, and we simply intend to continue it,” he said in an email.

The renewal process, announced in 2014, included staff and faculty reductions and adjusting employee and retiree benefits.

Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather said he did not understand the association’s decision to continue the probation and noted the college’s recent progress.

Last fall semester, Georgetown College had 358 students scheduled to be in the 2020 class, the largest class in five years. The college also raised more than $5.5 million and will begin the upcoming fiscal year on July 1 with a budget surplus, according to a video posted on its Facebook page.

“All of the elements for success are in place,” Prather said.

The school’s accreditation was continued under “good cause” meaning the college has demonstrated significant recent accomplishments in addressing its non-compliance and has documented that it has the “potential” to remedy all deficiencies within the extended period.

Under association rules, an institution cannot remain under probation for over two years. Institutions can be removed from SACSCOC if they continue to demonstrate non-compliance with accreditation guidelines and do not demonstrate “good cause” on why they should not be dropped from SACSCOC at the end of the two-year probation period.

Jim Allison, spokesperson for the college, said the goal is to get off probation at the end of the period.

A spokeswoman from the association said it will release more documents related to the probation continuance on Thursday. A special committee will also visit Georgetown College toward the end of the probation period to conduct an evaluation of the college’s compliance.