The Higher Learning Commission posted a public notice of the decision on its website Tuesday.
In addition to its main campus, Mountain State has satellite locations in Center Township, Pa.; Martinsburg, W.Va.; Mooresville, N.C.; and Orlando, Fla.; as well as a site in Hickory, N.C.
In 2010, the school purchased the Martinsburg Mall, and in January opened the Academic Support Center, a hybrid-learning center in a space formerly occupied by a Rex electronics store.
The June 28 decision by the commission’s Board of Trustees is effective Aug. 27. The school has until July 27 to appeal the loss of its general accreditation to an appeals panel of the commission. If an appeal is filed, Mountain State would keep its accreditation during the appeal process, which would take 10 to 16 weeks.
Mountain State University officials plan to appeal the decision.
“The Board is committed to continue to do what is in the best interests of the students, faculty and staff of Mountain State University and the community it has served since 1933,” Jerry Ice, chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees, said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
“It is the Board’s intention to promptly appeal the decision in accordance with the procedures available to the University, and to forcefully pursue our appeal. We are also weighing all options to preserve and protect MSU,” he said.
“We will provide updates on a regular basis as decisions are made,” Ice said in the release.
Commission board members concluded that Mountain State “has not conducted itself with the integrity expected of an accredited institution with regard to ensuring that its students have accurate and timely information about the status of their academic programs and consistent quality across all academic programs,” the notice said.The commission cited failures by administrators to correct problems with the school’s nursing program that led to its loss of accreditation from state and national nursing accrediting bodies. It also said Mountain State has had a culture that focused on high enrollment growth instead of program quality and oversight.
In January, Mountain State’s board fired former President Charles H. Polk in the wake of the accreditation issues. Richard Sours was name interim president in March. Since then, the university has implemented a new administrative structure and worked to improve its oversight.
The commission launched a review of Mountain State after it was notified of the nursing program’s accreditation issues. It said Mountain State has not demonstrated that it has corrected leadership and other problems that prompted the accrediting body to put the school on a “show-cause” status last year.
“The University has a long history of control of the University by a small group of administrators, including and surrounding the former president, lack of shared governance, and lack of oversight by the University’s Board of Trustees of serious problems at the University,” the commission said.
Mountain State has replaced some administrators. But most of those who were responsible for overseeing the school’s quality before and during the nursing program’s loss of accreditation are still in their positions.
Other problems cited by the commission include a failure to realistically plan to meet future challenges and inadequate financial and human resources to fulfill the university’s mission.