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USF president meets with accreditation officials about PolyTechnic | News

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USF president meets with accreditation officials about PolyTechnic
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TAMPA. Fla. -- Representatives from USF, its Board of Trustees, and the Board of Governor's returned to Tampa Wednesday after meeting with accreditation officials at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools near Atlanta. The group met with SACS officials to talk about USF PolyTechnic's accreditation.

USF President Judy Genshaft is confirming what USF officials, the Board of Governors, and many other people already knew: accreditation for USF Polytechnic in Lakeland will take years, not months as Senator JD Alexander has said.

Genshaft says SACS president gave them two options.

One option keeps USF PolyTechnic under the umbrella of USF's accreditation. This would give students financial aid, give professors federal grants, and students would graduate from an accredited university.

The second option would have PolyTechnic split from USF as a "start-up" university without accreditation, no financial aid, and no federal grants. This method would require at least one class of students to graduate before the school is eligible for accreditation.

President Genshaft says this method would delay the accreditation process and adversely impact students. "That has some difficulties for students because if they want to go to grad school, the school they apply to may question why they graduated from a non-accredited institution," she says.

USF PolyTechnic Chancellor David Touchtone says the meeting today gave them the assurance they are on the right track. "It validates the path we were taking. Perhaps now we can take our students that feel like refugees, get them back to work, take our faculty that is anxious, get them back on target, and start working the plan the Board of Governors gave us. Once again, I hope legislators give us that right very quickly," he says.

SACS officials say option one is the fastest and most effective method to accreditation. That would take between 2 to 4 years. USF has already started the process. USF Poly's chancellor says SACS has received 135 pounds of documentation.

USF's goal for Poly's accreditation is in two years, possibly three.

The Board of Governor's transitional plan gives 3 to 5 years for accreditation and that's the plan the governor supports. If PolyTechnic does split from USF this summer, President Genshaft assured professors and staff they'd have a job and guaranteed students USF would continue the program in Lakeland and they'd receive a USF diploma.

She says SACS' president is expected to release a formal letter tomorrow outlining its timeline and the accreditation process for PolyTechnic.

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