RGC & Sul Ross: Time for a split?

Jennifer Fry

Staff writer

Amid cries for independence, Sul Ross State University in Alpine continues to describe Rio Grande College as a dependent “off-campus instructional site” rather than a branch campus. Begun as an arm of the university in 1973, the college itself has functioned as a branch campus for several decades.

A committee from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges, an accreditation agency which periodically reaffirms a university’s accreditation, visited Alpine in April to reassess the university’s accreditation. The committee noticed a discrepancy between what Rio Grande College had been called and how it had functioned.

The committee found that the college had not been overseen with the same standards an off-campus instructional site should be – namely, the committee took issue with RGC appearing separate from the rest of the institution; that it maintained a separate course catalog; and that it had a separate governing body.

Rio Grande College maintains a faculty senate as a governing body which remains separate from the faculty assembly in Alpine. Until the summer of 2018, it offered a course catalog which was distinct from Alpine’s and which catered more to the needs of its geographic area.

“It is not generally accepted practice in higher education that the institution have separate and distinct practices for the off-campus instructional sites…,” reads a report from the SACSCOC committee dated April of 2018. The committee then recommended the university apply standards of homogenization to the college to bring it more in line with Alpine’s administrative habits.


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