University Response and Actions
WHEELING—On March 4, 2021, Wheeling University was notified by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of a change in status from “Accredited” to “Accredited – On Probation.” To clarify, Wheeling University remains fully accredited by the HLC while working to address concerns raised by the HLC’s decision. Concurrently, the Higher Learning Commission decided to remove the Financial Distress designation imposed on the University in May 2019. While under probation, Wheeling University remains fully accredited and strongly committed to remedying the issues necessary to lift the sanction quickly and decisively. It is equally important to note that the HLC did not cite nor alter the degree award position or status of the University’s academic programs. The sanction has no negative impact on academics and will not affect students in terms of the awarding of credits or degrees. In response, the University had already begun to address the issues of concern, which the Higher Learning Commission has acknowledged in its statement. Under the guidance of the HLC, Wheeling University will continue to improve and actively resolve these issues and others over the coming academic year. As part of the probationary process, Wheeling University will provide a report to the HLC that it has addressed the issues that led to the sanction no later than July 1, 2022. The HLC will then conduct an on-site evaluation no later than September 2022. Wheeling University officials remain confident that the University will fully address all of the HLC’s concerns and resume its regular accreditation status at the earliest possible time. Wheeling University welcomes this important opportunity to improve as the University is an institution that embraces and meets its challenges. The University has already begun and will continue to respond effectively, making steady and significant improvements to its financial planning and assessment, while linking initiatives and operations to a solid strategic plan. These sustained efforts are necessary to fulfill the University’s commitment to its students and alumni. Wheeling will continue to move forward with on-going corrections and will gain strength from rectifying the mistakes of prior administrations. “We remain committed to excellence for our students, their families and our alumni. Our Catholic mission calls for us to reflect on our work and continuously seek ways to enhance our programs and service to others throughout the world,” stated President Ginny R. Favede. The HLC decision serves as an additional impetus to continue the work already begun in right-sizing Wheeling University involving the permanent establishment of best practices in fiscal management and controls, financial stewardship, operational efficiency, institutional assessment and effectiveness, and enrollment management. “While the University is taking the HLC’s action seriously, students will feel no ill effects in a day-to-day matter. We will still have our excellent professors teaching the same great courses. We will be fielding the same athletic teams, and our student-athletes will continue to compete. Not one student will lose their financial aid due to this decision, and we are not anticipating any reductions in faculty or staff due to the HLC’s actions. We know what work we have in front of us, and we have already made many of the improvements. It is important to emphasize that although the University is on probation, it remains fully accredited,” stated President Favede. Since October 2019, when Favede became President, she and her senior leadership team have worked closely with both the Higher Learning Commission and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to address critical issues. This effort entailed a disciplined approach to managing finances, improving operations, bolstering academics, developing a new assessment system, providing faculty with additional support and training, and creating a new strategic plan, in addition to the significant efforts committed to enrollment and retention. As a result of these efforts and more, Wheeling University remains accredited and compliant with the HLC standards. Coming as part of its regular 10-year accreditation review, the sanction of probation by the HLC requires the University to continue to provide more data primarily in the areas of academic assessment, faculty re-development, institutional effectiveness, and planning. In the past year, the University had already recognized and had begun making significant progress in these areas. “Setting our financial house in order and reassuring our students, our alumni, and the people of our region that Wheeling University will continue to be here for them, have been the top priorities of my administration. I am proud that my team has taken steps to put Wheeling on firmer footing, while continuing to develop new ways to improve the experience of our students, while serving the interests of our community,” Favede continued. “Our University’s success – from enrollment levels to retention and graduation rates, to most especially the quality of our graduates – demonstrates that Wheeling University lives up to its mission of educating for leadership and service. We remain committed to our mission to provide a quality liberal arts education in the Catholic tradition as we have done for 67 years,” said Favede.