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Will UTEP keep its accreditation?

Iziah Moreno
UTEP’s risk of accreditation loss has been revealed to be caused by a ‘clerical’ error.

An ominous cloud shadows the reputation of UTEP as it recently became at risk of losing its accreditation. Thousands of students await the unknown, as the degree they are working hard for could lose its validation. University officials referred to the news as ‘minor issues’ yet students are still pondering over what happened this summer for this situation to arise.  

The piece of paper that cost money, sweat and tears may be invalidated as UTEP is struggling to keep its accreditation. UTEP received a letter from SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges), June 23, that informed university officials they were under warning status. SACSCOC is the organization that regularly checks on southern state higher education institutions in the United States to ensure they are providing quality education to their students.  

According to the action letter sent to President Heather Willson, SACSCOC recommended that the institution be placed on a warning status for six months. For failure to comply with their core requirements which include; full-time faculty, program length, qualified administrative/academic officers and program faculty.  

The disclosure statement states UTEP failed to fulfill the standards of five regulations imposed by the SACSCOC to remain accredited.  Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, John Wiebe addressed these issues towards faculty and staff with an email saying. 

“[SACSCOC] determined that they needed additional documentation of our processes and procedures related to five standards.” Wiebe continued, “Based on the June 29 letter and our conversations with SACSCOC staff, it is clear to me that the concerns have to do with further documentation, not the substance, of the standards.”  

The spread of misinformation led many students to fail to realize the issues were not substance based, rather lack of documents. Students who are well informed about the situation are unfazed about the accreditation because of how minor the issues are. Andrea Seanez, a graduate student now working towards her master’s in public administration, mentions how she is grateful for her education at UTEP regardless of the news.  

“I am still very prideful [of being a UTEP student]. I graduated with my undergrad here at UTEP and I’m getting my masters,” Seanez said. “The issue of the accreditation isn’t a matter of the content of the school, the proper documentations were not provided as required.” 

With this email, UTEP announced this warning as a nonharmful issue, as they hope to take the necessary measures to keep UTEP accredited. With little comment on the situation from the university, UTEP students are anxiously waiting for Sept. 8, which will declare whether the warning will be lifted.  

Coming from different countries in hopes of finding quality education, international students say they are the most confused about this news. They say leaving the comfort of their homes, to be faced with the risk of their degree being invalidated is wrongful scary. Because due to El Paso being a border city, many international students are reliant on UTEP to provide them with a college education. Giovanna Carmina Ibarra Bermudez came to UTEP aiming to obtain her master’s in biomedical engineering.  

“I’m from Puebla, Mexico, I have my bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from a college in Mexico City,” Bermudez said. “I think it’s important to have that accreditation. I don’t have as many options because I’m from Mexico, so UTEP is the [only] option for me.”    

Whether UTEP students are concerned or disregarding this news, the university being placed under warning is significant. Losing their accreditation could mean nursing graduates not being able to go into graduate schools. Aspiring teacher graduates may not be able to take their certification exam, and many other graduates may have a difficult time finding jobs. Many await to see if the sun will shine bright again on the home college of the Sun City as the countdown to Sept. 8, begins. 

Sofia Sierra is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected].edu  

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Contributor/Photographer
Iziah Moreno is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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