Idaho Faculty Complaint Resubmitted to Accreditor

Idaho State University Chapter of the AAUP Press Release
August 12, 2014
For more information, please contact Dan Dale, ISU Chapter

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the major accrediting body for higher education in the Pacific Northwest, formally has been found to be out of compliance with federal criteria that must be met to retain federal recognition as an accrediting body. This important finding against NWCCU has caused former senators of the Idaho State University Provisional Faculty Senate to resubmit to NWCCU an ISU faculty complaint dating from April 9, 2012 at the center of the NWCCU’s noncompliance.

The National Advisory Committee for Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), serving the US Congress and the US executive branch and acting upon formal recommendation by the US Department of Education, found the NWCCU to be out of compliance based on its handling of faculty complaints. NACIQI also identified additional concerns with NWCCU operations. NACIQI reached its findings in December 2013 after hearing testimony by the Department of Education, the NWCCU, and an Idaho State University (ISU) faculty member who described the NWCCU’s handling of a detailed faculty complaint emanating from ISU. 

For colleges and universities, federal recognition of their accrediting body is essential. Federal student loans are available only to students attending institutions that have been accredited by a federally recognized accrediting body. The NWCCU is the accrediting body for 163 colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest and Pacific islands including such powerhouse institutions as the University of Washington and the University of Utah.

Currently, the NWCCU is not meeting federal criteria for federal recognition. It is the second time that the NWCCU has been notified that it is out of compliance in handling faculty complaints. At American public colleges and universities, faculty are able to lodge formal complaints with their accrediting body when their educational institutions violate accreditation standards that protect fundamental tenets of public higher education such as shared governance and academic freedom.

The most recent finding against the NWCCU involved its failure to handle a detailed 260-page complaint made by faculty alleging substantial violations at ISU. Idaho State University is a public PhD-granting university that was sanctioned by the AAUP in 2011 due to the ISU administration’s violation of widely accepted principles and standards of shared governance.  Idaho State University remains on the AAUP sanction list.

The ISU faculty complaint attempted to bring these issues to the attention of the NWCCU in order to seek redress. However, the US Department of Education and NACIQI found that the NWCCU did not handle the ISU faculty complaint in a fair, equitable, and timely manner with documentary evidence supporting its response as is required by federal criteria.

Because the NWCCU failed to adjudicate properly the complaint submitted to it by the Provisional Faculty Senate of Idaho State University on April 9, 2012 and has remained silent on the complaint since being found to be out of compliance in its handling of the complaint, on August 1, 2014, the former officers of the ISU senate, and who are also AAUP members, resubmitted the complaint to the NWCCU. They seek appropriate evaluation of their documented evidence that Idaho State University is violating accreditation standards. The Office of Postsecondary Education of the US Department of Education and the AAUP have been provided copies of the resubmitted complaint.

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 12, 2014