Communication from MCU Administration

MCU Administration will be sending out email notifications.  This page will be a repository for archived messages.  

 

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7/29/14

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

The trustees, acting president and senior staff at Mid-Continent University recognize the interest and concerns of the public and in no way are we intentionally withholding information. The difficultly is that the issues are complex and that we’re dealing with regulatory agencies and legal issues.

Some discussions and information are sensitive and premature comments, misinterpretation of comments or misrepresentation of comments could cause misunderstandings that would unintentionally derail progress that is being made. We remain committed to getting information directly to students as soon as possible.

We are releasing this statement in an effort to answer some frequently asked questions and to clarify misinformation and misconceptions. We know it doesn’t answer every question and concern, and we’ll make additional comments when appropriate.

We have every intention that in the near future, the story of MCU’s end to Title IV federal student aid instruction will be told in detailed, but understandable format. We ask again for patience and understanding.

 

BOARD, ADMINISTRATION PRIORITIES

The top priorities of the trustees and administrators at Mid-Continent University are to continue providing crucial services to benefit former students, provide requested information to regulatory agencies and manage assets to pay vendors, faculty, staff and creditors.

We are committed to finding a use for the campus in Mayfield to continue the mission of using it to win the lost to Christ and to restore jobs. To meet that goal, the Board of Trustees appointed a committee that is studying options. The senior staff also is working daily to study and pursue opportunities.

A skeleton crew has been working extremely hard to carry out the priorities. Each remaining employee is multitasking and working diligently on time-sensitive matters to meet the requests of regulators and respond to student requests for information such as transcripts.

 

TRUSTEE DISMISSAL

One issue that trustee Chairman Tom Butler would like to clarify is the July 14 action by the trustees to remove Mr. Gale Hawkins from the board for violating a unanimously approved board policy that limited comments to the acting president or his designee. Mr. Hawkins did not oppose the policy, which was approved at two different meetings.

Mr. Butler emphasized that the board action was not an attempt to place a “gag order” on board members, but was done out of concern voiced by two acting presidents that miscommunication and inaccurate information was being released to the news media and regulatory agencies. The acting president was picked as the official spokesman because he has access to complete, up-to-minute information and details of crucial and complex issues.

On the occasions when others misspoke, Butler said the acting president and staff members working on crucial time-sensitive projects had to take time to clarify inaccurate statements, not only to the public but to regulators and stakeholders who are crucial to the future. It took time away from critical work that needed to be done.

Mr. Butler also said Mr. Hawkins should have raised concerns and sought answers to questions in board meetings, and not in comments to the media and outside agencies. He said most of the issues could have been clarified by asking questions in board meeting and talking to administrators.

Mr. Butler noted that it also served as a distraction for the board as it was trying to deal with critical issues. He said the board felt it necessary to respond after Mr. Hawkins, while still on the board, made inaccurate and slanderous statements alleging that Tim Walker, vice president of administration and finance, was not being truthful. Comments not only were made to the news media, but to at least one regulatory agency that Mr. Walker was dealing with almost daily. Mr. Butler said Mr. Walker has not misled the board in any way.

Trustees responded with the unanimous approval of a resolution supporting administrators and giving them a vote of confidence.  The resolution said members of the administration “have been personally and professionally attacked in a way not at all adhering to the mission of the University.” It said the attacks came in the form of “accusations and innuendoes” made in leaks to the news media.

 

REJECTION OF REQUESTS FOR FUNDS

It also is necessary to clear up any misunderstanding about the role and work of the former Financial Aid Executive Director Paula Clendenen and her staff as it relates to the rejection of requests filed with the U.S. Department of Education to release student financial aid funds.

With only a few exceptions, every department of the institution funneled records and reports to the financial aid department containing information required for each student’s record. A problem with a financial aid submission could therefore be found in records provided by almost any department of the school.

Information compiled by the financial aid staff was only as accurate at the information being provided by others. The submission problems were institutional problems. The financial aid department worked diligently and with integrity in providing information to all agencies.

Responding to the U.S. Department of Education’s 19 findings of deficiencies in the financial aid program has been difficult and complex. In addition to hiring a new staff member with expertise in financial aid, the administration used the advice of the country’s top federal financial aid consults and attorneys, and advice from local attorneys. The cost of that advice since 2011 has exceeded $2 million.

The issues were complex because the U.S. Department of Education concluded the University should have been meeting regulations as a “non-term” school since adult Advantage cohorts began on staggered schedules, rather than “term” regulations pertaining to students attending the traditional fall and spring semesters. It required major recalculation of records for a three-year period involving hundreds of students. It also required major new policies and procedures to comply with non-term federal regulations.

 

CLARIFICATION OF JULY 23 COMMENTS

We also want to clear up some of the issues raised by Mr. Hawkins in a July 23 news story published in The Paducah Sun:

  • Enrollment grew because of the unique adult program that allowed students to attend classes one night a week and -- for some of those with previously earned college credits -- could earn degrees in less than two years. Affordability and accessibility were the primary reasons for the increase in enrollment because classes were offered in dozens of communities throughout Kentucky and southern Illinois. Students could continue to work full time and earn degrees in their communities. More than 4,000 adults received degrees since the program was started.
  • MCU was not a “student mill.” The academic program and requirements were approved and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee on Colleges.
  • The University’s problems with submissions to the U.S. Department of Education were not the result of weakened admission standards. None of the 19 findings in a DOE program review were related to weak admission standards.
  • Rumors about lower admission standards were addressed in board of trustee meetings. No trustee provided facts or documents to back the claims, which one board member said came from an unidentified former financial aid counselor.
  • Approximately 90 percent of the students were eligible for some form of state and federal financial aid that included grants that didn’t have to be repaid, subsidized loans, and unsubsidized loans. The financial aid package for each student was based on federal guidelines that took into account financial need based on income, family obligations, cost of tuition and fees, and estimated living expenses.
  • It is possible some students may have enrolled with the main motivation of collecting the cash residuals rather than earning degrees. That unfortunately is common at any institution of higher education. If that was their motivation, they still had the responsible of repaying their loans, part of which funded the residual payments. Federal regulations require that if a student drops out, the University in many cases has to refund at least a portion of the unused tuition to the federal government.  MCU had no financial incentive to recruit students it knew would not succeed.
  • It is true that a few adult students may have been admitted with grade point averages of less than 2.0, which is permitted.  Often, students who didn’t do well in high school are highly motivated as adults and deserve a chance to succeed in college. Once admitted, they are required to maintain minimum standards to continue receiving financial aid.
  • The story was incorrect in stating that former President Robert Imhoff and his wife, Jackie Imhoff who was vice president of adult services, resigned. Both were fired by the Board of Trustees.
  • The independent auditors for MCU work for the Board of Trustees. Trustees have access to financial audits and other financial records. Documents were provided to members of the finance committee and others could down load the copies from a special website. If requested, they also would be given hard copies. The independent auditors also presented the FY 2013 audit to the Board Finance Committee in person and answered all questions concerning their findings and recommendations.

 

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June 3, 2014

Dear MCU Student:

We are pleased to announce that Teach Out Agreements with the University of the Cumberlands, Campbellsville University and Murray State University have been approved. These three institutions are very excited about working with MCU students.


Each institution has made decisions on application fees, transfer of credit, and residency requirements in agreement with their specific governance structures. The University of the Cumberlands and Campbellsville University are private, Southern Baptist universities much like Mid-Continent University. Murray State is the only public, state institution approved to offer a teach out with MCU students.


The following summary chart of the three approved teach out institutions will give you an idea of key features of what each institution offers MCU students. You can also click on the institution name to access their MCU web landing page for additional information.  Click to view the Summary Chart.


Each institution is ready to assist you with advising, financial aid, and other matters related to completing your degree. We recommend that if you have not already done so, you contact these institutions as soon as possible.

 

University of the Cumberlands       http://www.ucumberlands.edu/admissions/mcu/

Campbellsville University                 http://www.campbellsville.edu/mcuhelp

Murray State University                    http://murraystate.net/mcutransfer/


MCU’s Registrar Office remains open to assist you to obtain official transcripts. Access the transcript request form here.


We wish you the best in choosing a school to complete your degree.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tom Walden
Acting President
Mid-Continent University

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May 2, 2014

Campbellsville University on MCU Campus Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Representatives from Campbellsville University will be at the MCU campus in Mayfield to meet with traditional and Advantage students wanting to learn more about transferring to Campbellsville University. CU representatives will meet with students between Noon and 6pm on Tuesday, May 6 in the Advantage Classroom.

Students who are unable to attend this information session can contact Campbellsville University directly or by visiting their website http://www.campbellsville.edu/. Look for the MCU tab on their main page.

The Campbellsville University coaching staff is scheduled to meet with MCU athletes on Tuesday, May 6 from 10am to Noon in the Cougar Center. Athletes, please contact your coach or the AD for more information.

Please continue to check this site for current information.


MCU Student Information Services
info@midcontinent.edu

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April 29, 2014

MCU Student Teach-out update – We continue to work with University of the Cumberlands, Murray State University, and Campbellsville University to develop a SACS, DOE, and CPE approved teach-out agreement for our students.  The teach-out agreement will be very beneficial to MCU students and will address transfer, tuition, financial aid, and residency requirements.  The goal is to partner our students with three universities that can provide similar degree programs at costs similar to MCU tuition costs.

When the teach-out plan is approved, the three partner universities will directly contact MCU students.  The goal of University of the Cumberlands, Murray State University, and Campbellsville University is to match each MCU student with a program that best meets their needs for graduation.  All three institutions offer degree programs designed for working adults, on-line, and traditional students.  MCU is asking our students to be patient as we seek approval of the teach-out plan.  The goal of all institutions involved in this process is to help MCU students transfer all credits and complete their degree programs in as short a time as possible.

MCU Student Information Services

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4/28/14

University of the Cumberlands to Visit MCU Campus Wednesday 4/30/14

To All MCU Students:

A representative from the University of the Cumberlands will be on the MCU campus this Wednesday,4/30/14 from noon to 6:00 pm in Classroom Building #103 to assist transferring students.

Next week, representatives from Campbellsville University will be on campus. Date and time details will be provided as soon as they become available.

MCU Student Information Services

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April 24, 2014 12:10 pm

To All MCU Students:

Mid-Continent University is working with Murray State University, the University of the Cumberland’s, and Campbellsville University to develop teach-out and transfer agreements for Mid-Continent Students.  MCU and these three sister institutions are working with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, who will provide final approval of a teach-out and transfer plan.

We are honored to be partnering with universities of such quality as we work to ensure our students are cared for during this time of transition.  We are confident that Murray State University, the University of the Cumberland’s, and Campbellsville University will help our students to easily transition to education programs that are similar to what are students received at MCU.

We will work diligently with our accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, to ensure that the needs of our students are met.  Final approval of any teach-out or transfer agreement is handled by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and the Department of Education.

 

MCU Student Information Services

 

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April 18, 2014 6:53 pm

Dear MCU Student:

I know that the news of MCU’s closing June 30,, 2014 creates fear, frustration and disappointment. You have spent countless hours working toward your MCU degree.  Now what?

We are working very hard to create what is referred to as a “teach out” agreement with several institutions that we feel will best serve our students’ needs.  These institutions have similar degrees to MCU’s, some cater to adult learners, have multiple locations and online, and may be interested in teaching out your degree at one of MCU’s current sites.  A “teach out” agreement also reduces typical transfer issues such as meeting the transfer institution’s residency requirement, not accepting all credits, and not being able to complete the program you began.   We are also working with institutions that are very close to or even less than MCU in tuition cost.

Teach out agreements are approved by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, SACSCOC, and the US Department of Education to ensure that you, the student, receive the very best opportunity to complete your degree that can be offered under the circumstances. 

Before you make a final decision as to where you will transfer, I encourage you to wait for the information on MCU’s teach out plan. While we are deeply saddened that MCU will close, we are now focused on ensuring you have every opportunity to finish the degree you began at MCU at another institution.  We don’t take this hand off lightly. 

Information will be available to you as soon as the teach out agreement(s) is approved by the regulatory agencies. We will communicate the information via email and on the MCU website.

May God bless you as you pursue a new college or university.

 

Debra W. Hudson, Ph.D.

Vice President of Academic Affairs / Non-Traditional Program Operations

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April 17, 2014 5:09 pm

To All MCU Students:

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 the Board of Trustees of Mid-Continent University approved the following action: “Consistent with the current class structure the last date of instruction will be June 30, 2014.”  I was asked to serve as Acting President on Saturday, April 12, 2014.  The Board regrets the myriad of circumstances that brought forth this unfortunate situation.

We are working diligently to develop plans for the continuation of your educational programs with as little distribution in your programs as possible.  Please complete all courses in which you are enrolled.  We want to offer you multiple options with the goal of continuing quality Christ-centered educational programs for current Mid-Continent students through other accredited educational institutions.  We are developing a plan to provide you with available help after closing.

We wish to assure you all of your academic records will be permanently secured by Mid-Continent University or another similar institution.  All work completed by June 30, 2014 will be fully accredited by SACSCOC.   We will announce plans for such a repository in the coming weeks.

Please know the focus of my administration is to serve students preparing to graduate and those who wish to continue to completion of degrees.  We will release progress on our plans as they progress in the coming weeks.   Graduation will occur as scheduled at 3:00 pm on May 10 at Graves County High School in Mayfield, KY.

Again, we regret the effect this set of circumstances has had on your life and educational goals.  And I wish to express again my profound appreciation to the faculty and staff who are volunteering their services to allow us to complete this academic year.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. R. Tom Walden

Acting President