WASHINGTON – The nation's only liberal arts university for the deaf has been put on probation by its accrediting agency, signaling the campus continues to face problems months after protests last year shut down the school for days.
Gallaudet University's accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education had been delayed for months, but the school was formally put on probation Friday.
"We wanted to avoid that label," university President Robert Davila said. "But we may look back on all this ... as a blessing in disguise. It gives us an opportunity to change, and change is good."
Gallaudet remains accredited but faces a November 2008 deadline to prove it's in compliance with accrediting standards for leadership, integrity and student retention, among others.
The university, long considered a center of deaf culture, has struggled to maintain its enrollment as more deaf children choose mainstream schools or get implants that allow them to hear.
Gallaudet's enrollment has also dropped since months of bitter protests last year over appointment of a president that students thought lacked sufficient leadership skills. The appointment was revoked.
Stephen Weiner, who starts Monday as provost of the school, said enrollment was bound to drop because higher admissions standards have been adopted to increase academic rigor. Davila said he hopes the probation will not hurt enrollment any further.
"No school wants to go on probation," said Terry Hartle, of the American Council on Education. "But they will deal with it very quickly, I suspect."