USM Probation Lifted, School Looks Ahead

The University of Southern Mississippi is no longer on probation. Tuesday, the school's probationary status was lifted. This time last year, USM was put on probation until it improved the documentation process for its distance education program.

Jonathan Krebs was a junior, and the Vice President of the Student Government Association, when The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, also known as SACS, put USM on probation last year. He had the task of explaining exactly what that meant to fellow students.

"This probation was simply about our documentation. It had nothing to do with what was going on in our classroom, or the quality of our education," Krebs said.

The school was placed on probation last year because SACS determined reporting and documentation efforts on a 10-year study were not done properly. USM's President says the university has remedied the problem.

"That involved a lot of effort in terms of how classes are taught, what the syllabi are, what kind of efforts are made to evaluate those courses, what efforts were made not to take those evaluations and make courses better. It was basically all done by staff members and faculty members," USM President Dr. Shelby Thames said.

The university never lost its accreditation, but having the probation lifted Tuesday was welcome news to everyone who has ties to the school.

"This is like, you had a case that went the wrong way, and it was reversed on appeal, and this is the best case outcome for us," said USM alumnus Randy Pope.

University officials say they learned something from this probation, and that lesson will help advance the university.

"We'll teach classes. We'll evaluate those classes, we'll determine what we can do better and put that back into the classroom studies, and continue to reasses the way we tach and how we teach and get to be a better institution than we are today," Dr. Thames said.