Beck sells university accreditation

Steve Martin

In an email sent over spring break, university president Jill Beck announced that the university will not renew its accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools beginning in the 2006-2007 academic year.
“With the steady deterioration of the university’s aging equipment, the erosion over the years of the admissions office’s recruiting range, and plans by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest to go digital, Lawrence is confronted with the need to invest several hundred thousand dollars in the next few years to continue current operations,” Beck said.
Beck said in the e-mail that the accreditation had been purchased by the Concordia University System, the higher education organization of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Although the campus and its current facilities will transfer to Concordia, Beck reassured students that the university would retain the Lawrence name.
Meanwhile, IT Services has begun improving the existing Moodle system to allow for increased user traffic.
The announcement has already received criticism from both students and alumni. The chief complaint is that the decision was made without consultation of students, and that the announcement was made over spring break, when there were no students present to protest the announcement.
One alumnus, Jim Daley ’00, has even begun a petition to protest the recent move to an Internet-only format. “I was a student at Lawrence for four years,” said Daley, “and we got along just fine with the equipment we had. I think it’s appalling that the university would eliminate itself without talking to students and alumni first.”
Beck is quick to point out that LU has not been “eliminated.” “Lawrence will be able to continue with the same traditions, but now with the ability to share our gifts with the world,” said Beck. “For example, great Lawrence traditions like ArtsBridge and the Fellows program can now reach a worldwide audience. We are also happy to offer new majors in business, health care, criminal justice, and communications.”
Others, however, are more skeptical.
“What about Trivia?” asked freshman Drew Baumgartner. “Me and my friends are worried that the new signal won’t be able to handle the traffic when it comes to Trivia weekend. The 12:20 lunch rush could cause problems, too.”
IT Services has assured the students and faculty that this will not be a problem. “With the money we got from the sale of the accreditation and all of our old equipment– books, desks, buildings, and so on – we will be able to rent extra bandwidth for times of high usage like men’s basketball games and senior night at the VR.
It’s expected that the new, Internet-only LU will be fully operational by this time next year. Until then, students will be temporarily transferred to University of Phoenix Online.