By Kelly Heyboer/ The Star-Ledger.
UNION — Kean University’s president lashed out Wednesday at the higher education accrediting agency that has placed his school on probation after claiming it failed to meet academic standards.
Star-Ledger file photo Kean University President Dawood Farahi is shown speaking in 2004.
University president Dawood Farahi released a joint statement with Ada Morell, the university’s board president, accusing the agency of violating its own procedures in a “staff-driven agenda” to discredit the Union Township-based school.
“Rather than recognize Kean University for the dramatic transformations it has made to benefit students over the last decade, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education has placed the university on probation,” the statement said. “The commission has made compliance with its accreditation review process a moving target, applying its standards both subjectively and surreptitiously.”
A Middle States spokesman, Rich Pokrass, said last evening he could not comment other than to say the commission “has spent an extensive amount of time examining the Kean University situation.”
Kean, one of the largest public colleges in New Jersey, will keep its accreditation while on probation.
But the university and its 16,000 students could face serious consequences if it does not meet Middle State’s standards. Students at schools without accreditation may not be able to get financial aid, transfer their credits to other colleges or use their degrees to attend graduate school.
The increasingly contentious accreditation dispute comes after months of turmoil at Kean. Earlier this year, Farahi was accused of misrepresenting several items on his résumé. But the school’s trustees gave him a vote of confidence and allowed him to keep his job after a board investigation.
In April, the NCAA also punished Kean for “major violations” of its rules and placed all 13 of the university’s athletic teams on probation until 2016. Most of the violations were related to Kean’s women’s basketball team, which was given a postseason ban for the 2012-13 season.
The dispute with Middle States — the group that accredits colleges and universities in New Jersey and other mid-Atlantic states — has been going on for more than a year.