How many part-time faculty are too many?

Miami Dade College may find out.  The well-know community college receives a warning from SACS.  From Michael Vasquez, writing in The Miami Herald. I'm not sure the quote by Barmak Nassirian helps MDC...

MDC not likely to lose accreditation, say experts
Is Miami Dade College — the nation’s largest community college — in danger of losing its accreditation following the recent warning by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools?

Almost impossible, according to higher education experts, who cite the school’s strong national reputation coupled with the fact that community colleges are rarely, if ever, stripped of their accreditation.

Still, MDC finds itself on the defensive following the association’s board of trustees warning that the school relies on too many part-time faculty to teach students. MDC has more than 1,000 part-time faculty; 664 are full-time.

MDC has six months to address the concerns of the board, which will meet in December to review the college’s standing. At that time, the association could maintain the “warning” status for up to two years or place the school on probation, which can ultimately lead to a loss of accreditation.

An association spokeswoman on Thursday declined comment.

MDC College President Eduardo Padrón was not made available for comment. But in a letter last month to the association, he said MDC was hiring more full-time faculty.

The warning represents the first-ever disciplinary action taken against the school by the board.

Despite the warning, experts expect MDC’s accreditation problems to be short-lived.

Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers even went so far as to say the accrediting body needs MDC’s membership more than the school does.

“Do you know who accredits Harvard? Does it matter?” Nassirian said. “Miami Dade, believe it or not, has that kind of superstar status.”

Norma Kent, a spokesperson for the American Association of Community Colleges, said she couldn’t comment on MDC’s situation, but said she could not recall a single community college losing accreditation in the past 16 years.

Other kinds of colleges have on occasion lost accreditation. Such a punishment can cripple a school as it renders it ineligible for federal grants and loans that many students rely on to finance their education. Students at unaccredited schools also have difficulty transferring their credits.

At MDC, the board found the school short of a “core requirement” that states “the number of faculty is adequate to support the mission of the institution and to ensure the integrity of its academic programs.”

There are no specific numbers or ratios in that rule, leaving the door open to debate over what constitutes an “adequate” number of full-time faculty.


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