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SACS chief: JD Alexander heard what he wanted to hear

Posted Feb 27, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Feb 27, 2012 at 01:35 PM

Officials from USF and the legislature head to Atlanta for a meeting tomorrow to clear up, once and for all, questions about accreditation for USF Polytechnic and its possible successor, Florida Polytechnic University.

The new university is dead in the water without academic accreditation. And last week, before pushing his FPU plan through the Senate, Sen. JD Alexander said accreditation was no problem.

He said he received assurances from the accreditors, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, that USF Poly could be separately accredited by July, setting up a bridge to accreditation for the independent Poly.

That’s not what happened, says SACS president Belle Wheelan.

“He heard what he wanted to hear, and it took him awhile to hear that,” she told The Chronicle of Higher Education in a story that came out after the Senate vote.


What she told him, she said, was that the fastest way to accreditation was to leave Poly with USF. (She told us the same thing two weeks ago.) And that splitting Poly from USF could add years to the accreditation process.

Alexander wanted an immediate split because he said USF was dragging its feet in carrying out a methodical state Board of Governors independence plan.

But it turns out an immediate split will only slow the whole thing down.

The USF folks are reportedly taking state Sen. Don Gaetz, incoming Senate president, along with them to meet Wheelan and hear the truth. Gaetz is one of Alexander’s primary backers in the new university venture.

Someone needs to record the conversation.

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