Tuesday April 2, 2013

Karen Gross

I am reminded as I watch March Madness that negative game outcomes are always possible and even acceptable - but only if the process of reaching them is fair and equitable, conducted in good faith and exercised with professionalism and good judgment. Bad calls by referees that influence game outcomes are what make sports’ fans crazy.

And so it is with college presidents who experience accreditation processes and outcomes where the accrediting body does not follow its own rules and procedures nor meet legal standards.

This is precisely what has happened to the Southern Vermont College Nursing programs. In a letter the college received Monday, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission informed us that its board of commissioners had voted to deny continuing accreditation to the college’s nursing programs.

This decision was not a surprise. We had held out hope that sound reasoning and good judgment would prevail. Despite the quality and value of our nursing programs and the need for nursing professional in this region, the NLNAC (the equivalent of referees) did not adhere to common law due process and its very own mandates. It is like a referee not following the rules of basketball.

Yes, we will appeal this decision. Yes, we are planning to file a lawsuit against the NLNAC. Yes, our nursing students can sit for the national licensing examination. Yes, we continue to be accredited through the appeals process. Yes, we are a fully accredited college.

But, what is difficult to accept is that the decision itself is flawed - the referees made a really bad call. That is hurtful and disappointing and one expects more from a professional accrediting organization - just as one expects experienced refs to make the right call.

I believe in our nursing students and faculty and will fight the NLNAC with full force to reverse its decision. The nursing programs and SVC deserve nothing less than a fair call.

Karen Gross is president of Southern Vermont College.