Five Towns College on accreditation probation

Dr. Stanley Cohen, president of Five Towns College, Dr. Stanley Cohen, president of Five Towns College, speaks before the graduating class of 2012 at the school's Commencement Ceremony held today at the Orloff Auditorium at Half Hollow Hills HS in Dix Hills. (May 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

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A higher education accrediting body has put Five Towns College on probation after the for-profit music school failed to show it has sufficient leadership to make decisions and fulfill its educational mission, a recent report shows.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education moved to change the status of Five Towns College, located in Dix Hills, along with two other institutions, at its Nov. 21 meeting.

The Philadelphia-based accrediting organization approves the academic and leadership standards for about 530 colleges and universities, mostly in the mid-Atlantic region. Five Towns was cited for having inadequate "leadership and governance" and an inadequate "administration structure." The commission did not release details on its findings.

Five Towns president Stanley Cohen said Tuesday the college's administration has already taken steps to correct the violations.

The commission requires that colleges have "an active governing body with sufficient autonomy to assure institutional integrity and to fulfill its responsibilities of policy and resource development, consistent with the mission of the institution."

Colleges are also required to have "administrative structure and services (that) facilitate learning and research/scholarship, foster quality improvement, and support the institution's organization and governance," according to the report.

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While the report defined the noncompliance as "sufficiently serious, extensive, or acute," Five Towns remains accredited while on probation.

The infractions, which were not prompted by any incident, according to commission officials, were the result of a routine review and campus visit. The college is required to submit a report addressing the commission's concerns by March 1.

Cohen, who founded the school in 1972, said the recent passing of two trustees dropped the number of members on the 7-seat college board to five, which Cohen said was too low for an adequate governing body.

Two new board members have been brought on to fill the vacancies since commission officials last visited, Cohen said.

"We've already corrected it. We are sending a new report in March, and it will be done with," said Cohen, 85, of Melville. "We have nothing to be ashamed of."

With an enrollment of about 800 students, the college offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in jazz, commercial music, performing arts, the entertainment industry and music education.

The tuition is about $20,000 a year, depending on the program. The school has a faculty of about 100, Cohen said.

Five Towns has been a member of the Middle States Commission since Feb. 25, 1988. Since then, the commission has had to put the school on warning one other time, in June 2006. That warning, which also addressed an unclear administrative structure and curriculum, was reversed in June 2007.

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