The ongoing battle between the Florida State University System and the main higher education accrediting body has led to some new back and forth.
State university system Board of Governors member Alan Levin sent a letter on Wednesday to Beautiful Wheelanchairman of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Levine claimed that she had improperly interfered with the Florida university system, and it was not because she was simply asking questions about what was happening in Florida.
Levine’s missive was in response to a statement Wheelan made for POLITICO on Tuesday, complaining that the Board of Governors — and Levine in particular — had improperly accused the credentialing body of getting too involved in Florida State University’s presidential research.
“This is the first time in 17 years that I’ve been here that we’ve been charged with undue influence for requesting information or warning that a university may not be in compliance,” Wheelan said.
Levine took issue with his framing. He not only argued that she was wrong, but that she was abusing her influence to undermine both the reputations of Florida universities and individuals there, as well as her own credibility.
“My letter to you today was prompted by your statement in today’s media that you are accused of undue influence for simply asking questions or warning universities,” wrote Levine on Wednesday. “With all due respect, the letter you sent to us last year was neither an investigation nor a reasonable warning. It ventured into our governance and created a controversy affecting people , their careers, and the trust the public should have in our processes. And you did it without having any facts, just relying on a media story.
The back-and-forth is another skirmish in the ongoing battle between the Florida administration and the agency that wields immense power over universities and colleges across the South, offering the most sought-after endorsement over management colleges and universities.
It is not the first time Levine and Wheelan argued on the alleged undue influence of SACSCOC on the presidential research. SACSCOC did not immediately respond Wednesday to Levine’s latest accusations.
Levine, president and CEO of Ballad Health and chair of strategic planning for BOG, cited several previous comments from Wheelan, particularly when she noted issues involving the education commissioner. Richard Corcoranbrief unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the FSU.
In an April 2021 letter, she wrote: ‘I am concerned if he does not resign his position on the board while he is a candidate for the position, because it is the board of governors who will hire the chairman , the SACSCOC Board will find the institution non-compliant.
It wasn’t a question or a warning, Levin argued. It was a threat — and therefore an attempt to exert undue influence in Florida affairs, Levine charged in his Wednesday letter. Levine also defended Florida’s college president selection process and argued that several people who critics — paraphrasing Wheelan’s words — might find unqualified have become nationally recognized leaders in teaching. superior of Florida.
“You didn’t ask me for my opinion, but as a SACS customer, I offer it anyway. You are solely responsible for informing yourself and asking questions. You do not have the right to jump to conclusions without any facts and use your important position to influence the outcome of our governance decisions. Your approach to Florida State University research is just one example that has seriously shaken my confidence in your independence and ability to be objective about our universities,” Levine concluded.