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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (March 9, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---Concerns about fear and intimidation appear to have disappeared at the University of Guam, according to the chairman of the visiting accreditation team.

University faculty, students and staff swarmed the College of Arts and Sciences lecture hall yesterday to find out if the university improved its chances of retaining its accreditation.

University officials will not know until June 20 if the probation status will be lifted.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges placed the university on a two-year probationary status in July 2000 for failing to meet several accreditation standards, including institutional integrity, sustaining academic quality, finance and planning.

The nine-member accreditation team arrived on island earlier this week to review and determine if the university had corrected accreditation deficiencies.

"Overall, the impression was quite good," said Robert A. Corrigan, chairman of the visiting WASC team.

"It's really come along in a fine way over the last two years. . . . A lot of the concerns about fear, intimidation and a lack of access to decision-making and interference seem to have disappeared."

Corrigan said he could not say what kind of recommendation the team of WASC representatives will make to the association's governing body.

"There's a decision that will be made, and then the university will get a letter that tells them the things that they really need to pay attention to and work on until the next WASC team comes back," said Judith Wexler, a WASC team member who was part of the team that reviewed the university in 2000.

The probationary status could continue for another two years or the university could be placed "on some other status," she said.

Without accreditation, federal grants, government agency contracts and federal loans would be jeopardized, and students could not transfer credits to accredited universities.

"We won't know the final results until the WASC formal condition meeting in late June," said UOG President Harold Allen.

"All indications are that not only was the team pleased with what they saw here, but they were surprised by the level of commitment and success that we've enjoyed over the last 18 to 20 months."

Mark Mendiola, a senior and student regent who took office right before the 2000 review, said this visit was very positive and "shows the university is moving in the right direction."

"We know where we've been and we know where we are at right now and we need to continue that momentum to build a better university for the island community," he said.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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