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Swayne: ‘It was tough to read the room’

by KEVIN RICHERT / Idaho Education News
| July 2, 2023 1:00 AM

For North Idaho College, the verdict is about three weeks away.

Regional accreditors have decided the fate of the embattled Coeur d’Alene-based community college, NIC President Nick Swayne said Wednesday. But the announcement won’t come before July 21.

Meanwhile, Swayne says he has no idea what to expect.

“The commissioners contained their facial expressions and body language, so we really did not get any hint toward the outcome,” Swayne wrote in a message to the community, recounting his meeting with accreditors Friday. “It was tough to read the room.”

Swayne, NIC board Chairman Greg McKenzie and five senior college administrators met with Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities members in Seattle. The meeting represented the college’s last chance to make its case to remain accredited.

If NWCCU pulls accreditation, the decision could have a profound impact on the college and its 4,000 students. NIC students would not be able to transfer credits to another school, or qualify for financial aid such as Idaho’s Opportunity Scholarship.

NIC’s accreditation has been in question, as the college faces an ongoing leadership exodus: Swayne is the college’s fourth president in the past two years. Meanwhile, accreditors have pointed to dysfunction on the college’s five-member board, which has often been deadlocked along ideological lines since the 2020 elections.

While Swayne didn’t have a read on NWCCU’s decision, he did offer clarity on timing.

After Friday’s meeting, the NWCCU will take 30 days to write its decision. That translates to a decision on July 23, but that’s a Sunday. So, Swayne said, word could come on July 21, a Friday.

Until then, he said, “We were told we would not be given a hint about the decision.”