Group Files U.S. DOE Complaint On U.Va. 'Warning'

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A nonprofit group representing trustees and alumni from colleges around the country is seeking an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into an accreditation agency's decision to put the University of Virginia on warning for its failed attempt to fire its president last summer.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni contends the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges overstepped its role as an accrediting agency and had no basis for the warning it issued over the school's messy bid to oust Teresa Sullivan, its first woman president.

"We believe there is substantial reason to believe that the accreditor has inappropriately become involved in a power struggle between the president, faculty, and the board of trustees and urge you to investigate," Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, wrote to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Kay W. Gilcher, director of the accreditation division at the U.S. Department of Education. The letter was dated Dec. 31.

The accrediting commission did not immediately respond Monday to telephone messages and emails seeking comment.

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