Brookdale president is confident the college won’t lose accreditation
MIDDLETOWN — If Brookdale Community College were to lose its accreditation in 2019, students' eligibility for federal financial aid and their ability to transfer credits to another college would disappear.
But the president of the Monmouth County institution says there's no way that's happening.
President David Stout, in an interview with New Jersey 101.5, said "it's a relatively easy process" to address a warning it received from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education during the college's most recent re-accreditation process — a process that occurs every eight years to ensure colleges are engaging in continuous improvement efforts.
Brookdale was warned this summer that its accreditation is in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution "is currently in compliance with Standards II (Ethics and Integrity) and Standard V (Educational Effectiveness Assessment)."
"We see this as a situation that's entirely within our hands," Stout said. "There's no way that we won't succeed in this."
Stout said the college is mostly on the hook for not providing enough information about the effectiveness of improvements that had been made at the institution since its last re-accreditation.
The school's already implemented changes based on the Commission's input.
"We've got this," he said. "There's no way that we won't be able to document everything that we need to in order to get that full endorsement of the Middle States Commission."
In a letter dated Oct. 16, Stout assured Brookdale's 12,342 students that the school's accreditation is fully in tact, and students' eligibility for financial aid has not been changed in any way.
According to the Commission's website, Brookdale has until March to issue a report documenting evidence of compliance. A small team of Commission members will visit Brookdale following submission of the report.
Brookdale is listed on the Commission's site as "accredited with warning." It's the first of a few steps that would be taken before the Commission pulls a school's accreditation.
Stout said the college has received some unfortunate media coverage, in light of Middle States' warning, that may unnecessarily worry current or prospective students.
"That might persuade people to think that Brookdale is a mistake because the quality of education is not sound," Stout said. "Brookdale Community College is ranked in the Top 5 percent of all community colleges in the country."
Following reports of the accreditation warning, Freeholder John Curley called for a "thorough and independent investigation" into the school's operations. As the former freeholder liaison to the college, Curley uncovered the misuse of funds that led to the former president's resignation and conviction.
"As a proud graduate of Brookdale Community College, I want to ensure that the students of Monmouth County receive the same great education that I did, and that the taxpayers of Monmouth County know that their money is being spent properly," Curley said in a news release.