Western Oklahoma State College President Phil Birdine has released the following letter addressing a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
To our many friends and supporters, the past two weeks have been two of the most challenging weeks in the history of Western Oklahoma State College. As you may be aware, we have offered classes in our ten day intersessions for a number of years. These classes are now the subject of intense scrutiny from our national accrediting body, the Chicago based, Higher Learning Commission (HLC). One other national agency, the Washington D.C. based, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has weighed in with their thoughts based primarily on one article appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Our campus has taken every step available to us to actively engage in transparency, to be good stewards of the public resources annually allocated to our college, and to be accountable to our state and national accrediting agencies. Our constant aim is to represent our host city and our service area in a manner that reflects the values of Southwest Oklahoma as well as the institutional integrity our employees commit themselves to upholding.
In my opinion, the Chronicle writer’s use of incendiary phrases and terms such as “possible fraud, credibility, lack of rigor, and closing the gaps in its revenue”, serve only to polarize and to strongly imply that Western immediately needs to address these areas of institutional management. Also, I feel that such terms cast judgment on our campus, prior to all facts being presented and thoroughly examined. I am so thankful that Western is a part of a supportive community and thankful for the many friends who have expressed their confidence in our educational mission. Lastly, it is extremely encouraging to live and work in a community that believes in gathering all the facts before reaching a thoughtful decision. In that regard, our national educational organizations can learn a great deal from the citizens of Southwest Oklahoma.
We look forward to hosting the spring 2013 visit by the HLC advisory team which will provide our campus the opportunity to demonstrate our adherence to the policies and guidelines of our accrediting bodies.
/s/ Phil Birdine, President