MSCHE Continues Show Cause Status for 11 UPR Institutions

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education continued the show cause status for all 11 institutions of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) following their appearances before the Commission on March 13 and 14, 2019. For the eight institutions who have been in non-compliance since May 2017, they have each been extended one year for good cause.

The 11 institutions are required to submit a show cause report by Sept. 1, 2019, as to why accreditation should not be removed. The Commission may take an action of show cause if it has identified one or more areas in which an institution does not meet Commission standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, or federal compliance requirements.

“The show cause appearances by the 11 institutions of the University of Puerto Rico system before the Middle States Commission on Higher Education was unprecedented,” said Commission Chair Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “The Commission remains sensitive to the ongoing challenges faced by the institutions and the UPR system and recognizes the steps taken by these institutions in the past weeks and months to rectify the areas of non-compliance identified by the Commission. However, more work needs to be done not only by each of the institutions but by the UPR Central Administration in order for the Commission to find the institutions in compliance and reaffirm the accreditation of the institutions.”

The Commission’s show cause actions require that each of the separately accredited UPR institutions demonstrate compliance with Standard VI (Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement) and Requirements of Affiliation 11. The Commission did note that the institutions are now in compliance with Requirement of Affiliation 14 and the Related Entities Policy.

The UPR institutions remain accredited while on show cause.

In accordance with federal regulations, institutions can only be in non-compliance for a 24-month period. Following that time period, the Commission can grant a 12-month extension of the non-compliance period for good cause. After the first extension, the Commission has the option to grant a second and final 12-month extension for good cause.

For the eight institutions—Arecibo, Bayamon, Carolina, Cayey, Humacao, Ponce, Rio Piedras, and Utuado—in non-compliance since May 2017, the Commission has granted an initial extension for good cause because the institutions provided written and compelling evidence that:

  1. the quality of the student learning experience has not been compromised at the institution;
  2. the institution has the potential to remedy the non-compliance issues identified by the Commission within the period of extension;
  3. the institution has developed reasonable plans to meet the Commission’s expectations for reaffirmation within the period of the extension;
  4. the institution has support from the University of Puerto Rico central administration, the Financial Oversight Management Board for Puerto Rico, and other constituencies for ongoing institutional compliance; and
  5. the institution has been impacted by other circumstances outside of the institution’s control.

The three remaining institutions—Aguadilla, Mayaguez, and Medical Sciences—were found to be in non-compliance in January 2019 and are at the beginning of their 24-month timeframe.

Details of the required information for the show cause report due Sept. 1, 2019, can be found in the actions for each of the institutions.

Following submission of the show cause reports, the Commission will conduct an on-site show cause visit. The on-site show cause visit is to verify the information provided in the show cause report and the institution’s ongoing and sustainable compliance with the Commission’s standards, requirements, policies and procedures, and federal compliance requirements.

The institutions will be invited to appear before the Commission when it meets to consider the institution’s show cause status.

In addition to continuing the show cause status, the Commission acknowledged receipt of the institutions’ teach-out plans and is requiring a supplemental information report due May 1, 2019, documenting evidence of:

  1. the single audit and audited financial statements for fiscal year 2018, and
  2. submission of the 2018 single audit and audited financial statements to the Commission, United States Department of Education, and other parties as required by regulation and/or law (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11).

The show cause actions in January 2019 was precipitated by the failure of the UPR institutions to submit the information required by the Commission in its November 2018 action, specifically the audited financial statement and single audit for June 30, 2017, which was due Jan. 2, 2019.

Additional information about the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, its policies and procedures, as well as links to the Commission actions for each institution can be found at:

Policies and Procedures

https://go.msche.org/Show-Cause-Appearance-Procedure

https://go.msche.org/Appeals-from-Adverse-Accrediting-Actions

https://go.msche.org/Teach-Out

https://go.msche.org/Accreditation-Actions

https://go.msche.org/Accreditation-Review-Cycle-and-Monitoring

https://go.msche.org/Standards-for-Accreditation

https://go.msche.org/Communication-In-The-Accreditation-Process

Additional information about individual UPR institutions, including accreditation history, can be found through the institutional directory here.