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Criswell receives caution from agency

DALLAS (BP)–Despite a warning over problems with “institutional effectiveness” cited by its accrediting agency, Criswell College President Jerry Johnson said he expects the deficiencies to be resolved over the next year.

The Dallas school, which reconstituted in August with a new board of trustees and new bylaws after its separation from First Baptist Church of Dallas became legal, received the “warning” by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after its December review. A warning is the least severe of SACS’ cautionary flags.

Johnson said in a statement: “Criswell College is pleased to read in the SACS report that ‘The commission continued the accreditation of the following institutions after conducting a visit to review their substantive changes: Criswell College, Dallas, Texas.’ This is quite an accomplishment given our recent transition of new governance, new bylaws, and a new board. The reception of a ‘warning’ in the area of ‘institutional effectiveness’ means that Criswell needs to be more aggressive in the areas of planning and assessment during the next year. The administration is already planning improvements in these areas and expects the ‘warning’ to be lifted within the next year. We enjoy the status of being accredited by SACS and will continue to do so.”

A special SACS committee will conduct an on-site compliance evaluation next fall, with a report expected in December 2011. Johnson said he expects the school’s warning to be lifted then.

The school, begun in 1970 by the late W.A. Criswell, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, as a Bible institute, offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Criswell reported 365 students in the fall semester.

Johnson, who led the college from 2004-08, was rehired as president in November. In the interim, he served Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., as vice president for academic development, dean of the faculty and professor of ethics and theology.
Compiled by the staff of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, on the web at texanonline.net.

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