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NCC remains on probation with academic accreditor

Nassau Community College President W. Hubert Keen speaks

Nassau Community College President W. Hubert Keen speaks in his office about a review of the college's accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

Nassau Community College remains on probation with its academic accreditor even as it has shown progress in its effort to be brought back to good standing, according to a report made available this week.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, at its meeting on March 2, noted the college is now back in compliance in the area of integrity but still lacks sufficient evidence that it complies with the other six of seven standards it failed last year. The commission posted a copy of its action from that meeting on its website this week.

NCC President W. Hubert Keen said the decision was expected, student financial aid has not been endangered, and the school will be back in good standing with Middle States by the end of the fall semester.

“It is a great advance to have fulfilled the important standard on integrity. We remain focused on serving the needs of our students and achieving full compliance with the remaining standards by summer 2018,” said Keen, who became president in July.

The college is fully accredited while on probation. NCC has until June 2018 to get back into good standing. Losing accreditation would mean students could not get federal and state financial aid.

With 20,000 students, NCC is the largest single-campus community college in the State University of New York system. It has been accredited by Middle States since 1967.

Last March, Middle States representatives told NCC officials that the school failed to show it fulfilled seven of the 14 standards to be considered in good standing. NCC was then officially placed on probation at a June meeting of Middle States.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is based in Philadelphia and is a nongovernmental agency that measures quality at hundreds of colleges and universities in the region. About 3,000 institutions of higher education are divided by region and accredited by one of seven regional accreditors.

Reviewers from Middle States, after the three-day visit last March, said NCC needed to hire a permanent president, prevent political intrusion, raise student enrollment and graduation rates and rebuild trust among its constituents.

One major deficiency that Middle States’ reviewers found was under the standard labeled “Integrity.”

They pointed to political influences at the college and potential conflicts of interest in regard to the hiring of Kate Murray, the former Town of Hempstead supervisor who began work there Jan. 1, 2016, in a media and governmental relations job. Trustees voted in December 2015 to hire Murray at an annual salary of $151,000. Murray is still employed at the college.

Keen has said that new college policies, procedural and ethics training for its board of trustees as well as new bylaws have helped make progress on the integrity standard.

NCC must provide Middle States another monitoring report on Sept. 15. Reviewers from Middle States will conduct another visit shortly after.


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