SBU's probationary period with the Higher Learning Commission is slated to last two years or less.
SBJ file
SBU's probationary period with the Higher Learning Commission is slated to last two years or less.

SBU placed on accreditation probation

Posted online

One of Southwest Baptist University's accrediting bodies has put the Bolivar school on probation.

In its order that became effective Nov. 4, the Higher Learning Commission cited a lack of autonomy of the governing board, less academic freedom than required and an environment where the institution is unable to effectively fulfill its mission.

SBU remains accredited by the HLC. The probationary period will not last more than two years, according to a news release.

"This action is based on governance issues and is not a reflection on the quality of SBU’s academic programs, faculty or staff. Students’ grades, degrees, and eligibility for state and federal programs are unchanged," said Rick Melson, who recently was installed as SBU’s president, in the release. "SBU has been accredited by the HLC since 1957, with our accreditation reaffirmed as recently as January 2020. We will continue working closely with the HLC during this period to make certain that we meet the core components for accreditation.”

SBU and its board of trustees have taken action to address HLC's concerns, officials say, with more time needed to prove a sustained pattern of evidence toward full compliance.

The HLC indicated SBU must provide evidence that it has addressed the issues no later than April 2023. The HLC Board of Trustees will decide in November 2023 whether to lift the probation.

The HLC is not the only accrediting body for SBU. For Springfield Business Journal's spring list of the area's largest higher learning institutions, SBU reported 10 other accrediting organizations, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.