The Middle States Commission on Higher Education placed all 11 University of Puerto Rico institutions on show cause, it said Thursday, a serious action meaning they will need to submit a report before the end of the month arguing why they should not have their accreditation revoked.
The institutions did not submit audited financial statements and an audit for June 30, 2017, according to a press release from the accreditor. Those documents were due by Jan. 2 under an earlier commission action.
Each institution is separately accredited and will have to show compliance with several Middle States standards and requirements. They are required to file reports with the accreditor by Jan. 25.
In March, the accreditor will meet and determine the 11 institutions’ futures. It will have the option of affirming accreditation, continuing show-cause status or withdrawing accreditation for any institution or for all of them. For eight institutions that were previously on probation, it will also be able to extend probation for good cause.
The institutions will remain accredited while they have show-cause status. Loss of accreditation is considered a severe blow that can close a college or university, because it means the loss of access to federal financial aid funding for students.
“It is the hope of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that the institutions of the University of Puerto Rico system will provide the commission with the required materials on time so that the commission is able to carry out its accrediting responsibilities,” Margaret M. McMenamin, commission chair, said in a statement. “While the commission is sensitive to the challenging circumstances in Puerto Rico, the institutions of the UPR System failed to meet the commission’s deadline for the required material.”
Letters sent individually to the institutions spelled out requirements for show-cause reports they must submit. Requirements include providing evidence of financial resources to support educational programs and stability, information on the impact of the federally created Fiscal Oversight Management Board’s plans, an annual independent audit, a “record of responsible fiscal management,” and certification of recognition of accreditation requirements.
The University of Puerto Rico’s president, Jorge Haddock, gave instructions to all institution chancellors to submit the required additional information, he said in a statement. The university’s auditing firm should have statements ready in the coming days, he said.
“We are confident that, once we comply with all the requirements in the coming days, our accreditation will be renewed for a new period,” he said.