Penn State says its accreditation fully restored

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The organization that accredits Penn State University has lifted a warning placed on the school in August amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal and now finds Penn State is in full compliance with all accreditation requirements, university President Rodney Erickson said today.

Mr. Erickson conveyed the findings of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in his remarks delivered to the university's board of trustees, meeting today in University Park.

He said the commission's review team "also acknowledged the University's resilience, fiscal stability and rapid change in the face of numerous challenges."

"While the Penn State accreditation always remained intact, a group of Middle States evaluators visited Penn State in mid-October," Mr. Erickson said. "After a thorough review, the team determined that Penn State is responding appropriately to the leadership, governance and financial challenges created by the scandal."

The findings, which drew applause from the board room, are a boost to Penn State's efforts to rebound from the scandal. They were announced at a meeting during which the board is expected to formally launch its search for the university's 18th president.

Matters of academic quality, which typically are associated with accreditation warnings, were not at issue in the case of Penn State.

Instead, the commission in August said its warning was based on results of the school-commissioned Freeh investigative report, the landmark sanctions imposed by the NCAA and concerns about compliance with Middle States standards in such areas as institutional governance, integrity and adherence to the school's mission.

The decision to lift the warning was influenced by various university efforts, including progress implementing recommended reforms in the Freeh report, Penn State officials said. Also factors were changes to board of trustees structure and processes; work to boost awareness of child abuse and sexual assault; as well as other personnel and policy moves.

Middle States has asked the university to deliver a progress report in a year, Mr. Erickson said.

Mr. Sandusky, a retired assistant football coach, is serving a 30-to 60-year prison term for sexually assaulting 10 boys over a 15-year period, some on campus. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was fired amid the scandal, and three administrators, including former Penn State president Graham Spanier, now face criminal charges related to an alleged cover-up of Mr. Sandusky's actions.

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Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977.


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