The institution complies with the policies of the Commission on Colleges. (Policy compliance)

3.13.1 “Accrediting Decisions of Other Agencies”

Applicable Policy Statement. Any institution seeking or holding accreditation from more than one U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body must describe itself in identical terms to each recognized accrediting body with regard to purpose, governance, programs, degrees, diplomas, certificates, personnel, finances, and constituencies, and must keep each institutional accrediting body apprised of any change in its status with one or another accrediting body.

Documentation: The institution should (1) list federally recognized agencies that currently accredit the institution or any of its programs, (2) provide the date of the most recent review by each agency and indicate if negative action was taken by the agency and the reason for such action, (3) provide copies of statements used to describe itself for each of the accrediting bodies, (4) indicate any agency that has terminated accreditation, the date, and the reason for termination, and (5) indicate the date and reason for the institution voluntarily withdrawing accreditation with any of the agencies.

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant     Not applicable


Federally Recognized Agencies

Roster of Agencies. Federally recognized agencies which currently accredit Francis Marion are listed in the following table:

Accrediting Body and Academic UnitCycleLast AccreditationSite Visit ScheduledNegative Action
*SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
University Accreditation
10 years20082018None
*CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation)
7 yearsSpring 2013Fall 2019None
*AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
School of Business
5 years2015Fall 2019None
MPCAC (Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accrediting Council) Department of Psychology10 yearsSpring 2008Fall 2017None
*NASP (National Association of School Psychologists)
Department of Psychology
3 ,5, 7 yearsSpring 2012NANone
*NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design)
Department of Fine Arts
10 yearsFall 2014Spring 2023None
*NAST (National Association of Schools of Theater)
Department of Fine Arts
10 yearsSpring 2017Spring 2025None
ACS (American Chemical Society) Department of Chemistry6 years2012NANone
*ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing)
BSN Program (pre-licensure and RN to BSN) Nursing Program
8 years20112019None
*ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) BSN Program (RN to BSN) Nursing Program. Hybrid Online
2015Site has been closedNone
*ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing)
MSN Program (FNP and Nurse Educator) Nursing Program
5 year initialSpring 2019None
*ARC-PA (Accreditation Review Committee for the Education of the Physician Assistant) MS (Physician Assistant Studies) Physician Assistant Program
10 years2016Fall 2018Probation

Table 1. Accreditation Cycles for Francis Marion University

*Agencies which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education

Negative findings. The basis of the decision by ARC-PA is described in their letter to Francis Marion which was also sent to SACSCOC [1]. In summary,

Since the last site visit, the program has developed a comprehensive plan to collect and analyze data to promote program effectiveness and self-assessment. Although didactic objectives have been revised, the clinical year syllabi and objectives need further improvement. Site visitors determined that with the start of the new semester (January 2017), students will obtain syllabi that will guide student acquisition of required competencies and allow assessment of student learning.

The ARC-PA noted six (6) areas of noncompliance with the Standards presented as citations in the enclosed document. The Citations document includes information on reports due to the ARC-PA.

The Provisional Monitoring review of the program by the ARC-PA is scheduled for the March 2019 commission meeting. The program will be contacted by the ARC-PA in advance of that review regarding details of the application, reports and selecting site visit dates.

Francis Marion has represented this probationary status openly and honestly. The following statement appears on Physician Assistance Studies page of the University website [2]:

Accreditation Status

At its March 2017 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) placed the Francis Marion University Physician Assistant program sponsored by Francis Marion University on Accreditation-Probation status until its next validation review in March 2019.

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).

Materials Presented to Accrediting Agencies

Francis Marion can demonstrate that it consistently presents the same information to all accrediting agencies by comparing information presented by the various academic units, and it presents some examples below. A problem with this analysis, however, is that for some units the description is narrowly focused on the unit under review (i.e., there is not a lot of information presented concerning the demographics and mission of Francis Marion University).

In cases where the information provided about an academic unit is too unique to be compared to any other unit, one can depend upon the rigorous review by an accrediting agency to determine that the information presented is factual. For units which did not present general information about Francis Marion, letters from the accrediting agencies are presented.

Materials Submitted to Accrediting Agencies

Descriptions which were presented to accrediting agencies by the following academic units: School of Business; Nursing Program; Department of Fine Arts (Theater) are presented below.

School of Business. AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
FMU CIR Report 2014-15 (pages 4-5)

Situational Analysis

The School of Business operates within Francis Marion University, one of thirteen state supported universities in South Carolina. Named after Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion, FMU traces its history to 1957 when the University of South Carolina established a freshman center at the Florence County Library. In 1961, a permanent campus for USC-Florence was constructed on 400 acres originally included in a grant by the King of England, and subsequently donated by the Wallace family. With community support, a free-standing institution was created in 1970; evolving from a College to a University in 1992. Founded in response to the need for a public higher education institution in the six county Pee Dee region of the state, the university and the School of Business have transformed to meet those needs.

FMU offers the individualized attention and benefits of a small liberal arts university and the broad educational opportunities of a comprehensive public institution. The university and the School of Business have a mission to provide students with a high quality education founded in the liberal arts tradition. Business education has been an integral part of the university from the beginning.

While 95 percent of the approximately 4,000 FMU students come from South Carolina, the university enrolls students from 31 states and 22 countries. The student-faculty ratio is 15 to 1, and the average class size is 20. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award bachelors, masters, and specialty level degrees.

The challenge to provide transformative opportunities for School of Business students has been met through the provision of programs to largely first generation college students that enhance the economic vitality of the region. Issues of difficult economic restructuring, pockets of low educational achievement, poverty, and unemployment have shaped the vision and mission of the university and the School of Business. The opportunities to facilitate access, and create value for its students, and the region, are significant. As both the traditional college bound population in the region grows and the existing adult population seeks to enhance their skills, the school is well positioned as the leader in our region, and a catalyst for economic growth.

The School of Business offers the Bachelor of Business Administration and the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the undergraduate level, and the Masters of Business Administration.

Francis Marion University enrollment data for 3,944 students in Fall 2014 is as follows:

Undergraduate Full Time
Undergraduate Part Time
Graduate Full Time
Graduate Part Time

Table 2. FMU Enrollment Data in Fall 2014

The School of Business enrollment data for 549 students in Fall 2014 is as follows:

Business Economics
General Business
Management Information Systems

Table 3. School of Business Enrollment Data in Fall 2014

Just a few of the numerous advantages of Francis Marion University are our small liberal arts feel, high student-faculty interaction, and lower tuition costs. The Center for Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Institute provide critical needs for startup and other small businesses in the surrounding area. As a value added choice in higher education, FMU’s School of Business offers quality programs, broad experiences, a student body that reflects the best of our community, and opportunities for international travel.

Some of the toughest challenges, including high regional unemployment, the rural nature of our region, and a student body with limited experiences in professional settings have been met head on by administration and faculty. The Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Business internships seek to promote regional economic development as well as maintain our presence in the area. A large percentage of incoming and transfer students struggle with poor communication and technical skills. The university’s General Education Assessment and the School of Business Assurance of Learning Program offer ways to improve student readiness for upper division business courses and for the global marketplace. From job search and interview skills to professional conduct and career expectations, we spend considerable time, effort, and funds helping students’ transition from college to work.

The foundation of the School of Business is our faculty. Twenty-three of our twenty-five full time faculty hold Ph.Ds. The SOB employs only four adjunct faculty each year. All take an active part in the transformative effect on the lives of their students. They motivate students to achieve academic success, promote interactions between local businesses and the SOB through internships and dialogue, and prepare them for employment opportunities.

These challenges serve as opportunities for the School of Business to focus on providing a high quality and truly transformative business education.

Nursing Program. ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) BSN Program (pre-licensure and RN to BSN)
Self-Study Report 2011

Governing Organization

Francis Marion University (FMU) traces its history to 1957, when the University of South Carolina (USC) established a “freshman center” at the Florence County Library. In 1961, a permanent campus for USC-Florence was established at the current location on land donated by the Wallace family. The Commission on Higher Education recommended an act creating Francis Marion College, which Governor Robert E. McNair signed into law effective July 1, 1970.

FMU’s purpose is threefold: to provide students with an excellent education, stimulate inquiry and research, and serve the Pee Dee Region of SC. Today, FMU is one of 13 comprehensive universities in South Carolina (SC), with approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 400 graduate students. FMU offers bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts disciplines, business, education, and nursing; master’s degrees in business, education, and psychology; and a specialist degree in school psychology.

FMU employs 254 faculty, and has an average faculty-student ratio of 15:1 and an average class size of 21. FMU also employs 312 support staff.

The Department of Nursing (DON) is one of the departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Enrolled in the nursing major are 196 upper division students (including 155 pre-licensure and 41 RN to BSN students), as well as 438 pre-nursing students. The DON has 12 full-time and two permanent part-time faculty members and two full-time support staff.

FMU serves the needs of Florence and the surrounding areas in ways beyond formal education. Its numerous cultural activities and athletic programs benefit not only students, but also the community. To foster the economic development of the region, FMU offers consulting services to business, industry, and government, and academic and practical assistance to area schools. FMU faculty, staff and students have made a significant impact on the region through research, public service, involvement in the arts and literature, and the delivery of health care, government and social services. For ten consecutive years, U. S. News and World Report magazine recognized FMU as one of the South’s master’s level universities, and FMU is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a master’s level university.

FMU is located seven miles east of Florence, the “Magic City” in the hub of northeastern SC. This area is commonly called the “Pee Dee Region” of SC, and includes Florence, Darlington, Marion, Chesterfield, and Marlboro counties. Florence is now the largest city in this area, with a population of around 31,284 with a service area population of 305,941 in 2009. Florence is located at the intersection of two main thoroughfares, I-95 and I-20, and draws regional audiences to its varied entertainment and cultural opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts appreciate the many parks, tennis courts and the Great Pee Dee River. NASCAR fans can enjoy the nearby Darlington Raceway.

Florence County enjoys one of the most diversified economies in the southeast. Workers produce an impressive array of products, ranging from pharmaceuticals to magnetic resonance imaging equipment. Florence is the regional medical center for northeastern SC, with two full-service hospitals.

FMU and the community enjoy a mutually supportive relationship that is beneficial to both, as well as neighboring schools Florence-Darlington Technical College and Coker College.

History of the Nursing Education Unit
Establishment of the Program

Since 1982, FMU has hosted a satellite RN to BSN program of the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) College of Nursing. In 1998, based on regional needs, a pre-licensure BSN program was begun on the FMU campus. In June 2004, FMU and MUSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to transfer administrative direction for the then-current Bachelor of Science program offered on the FMU campus (pre-licensure and RN to BSN tracks) to FMU, with admission requirements, curriculum, and program outcomes remaining the same. This memorandum became effective in fall 2005. The returning senior class of fall 2005 transitioned by the authority of the MUSC Catalog, and was awarded a joint BSN by MUSC and FMU. The junior class was governed by the FMU catalog, and the BSN was awarded by FMU. Subsequently, FMU and the DON received approval to assume administrative direction from the SC Board of Nursing, and approval from the SC Commission on Higher Education to offer the pre-licensure Baccalaureate Nursing Degree and the RN to BSN tracks.

The DON currently admits a cohort of approximately 60 upper division students each fall semester, and 30 students each spring. A maximum of 30 RN to BSN students are admitted on campus each fall. The DON offers traditional classroom education and some hybrid courses comprised of on-site and online coursework. Classes are offered on the main campus and two off-site locations.

NLNAC Accreditation

The DON is a member of NLN, and was granted initial accreditation for spring 2006 to spring 2011. The DON is seeking continuing accreditation in 2011.

Department of Fine Arts (Theatre Arts). NAST (National Association of Schools of Theater)
Self-Study Report 2015

Data presented for consideration by the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Theatre for Renewal of Final Approval.


Francis Marion University was founded in response to an overwhelming need for a public higher education institution in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. The university was founded in 1970 and named in honor of Revolutionary War hero, General Francis Marion, who was nicknamed the Swamp Fox for using the South Carolina terrain to out-fox the British.

However, the university can trace its history to 1957 when the University of South Carolina established a freshman center at the Florence County Library. In 1961, a permanent campus for USC-Florence was established seven miles east of Florence on land donated by the Wallace family, the current location of FMU. By 1966, enrollment at USC-F had reached 350, and community leaders began a movement to establish a four-year institution to better meet the educational needs of the area.

Following a Commission on Higher Education recommendation, Gov. Robert E. McNair signed into law an act creating Francis Marion College, effective July 1, 1970. The institution gained university status in 1992.

The institution has had four presidents: Dr. Walter Douglas Smith (1969 to 1983), Dr. Thomas C. Stanton (1983 to 1994), Dr. Lee A. Vickers (1994 to 1999), and Dr. Luther F. Carter (1999 to present).


Francis Marion University is one of South Carolina’s 13 public, coeducational universities. As one of the state’s six comprehensive institutions, FMU prides itself on providing a strong liberal arts education. The University offers a broad range of undergraduate degrees and a select number of graduate programs in serving the needs of communities, businesses and industries of the Pee Dee region. Francis Marion is the only state university located in the Pee Dee region, and many of its students are the first in their families to go to college. FMU offers an excellent learning environment, small enough to afford students personalized attention from faculty and staff, and large enough to let students expand their horizons. All faculty members have advanced degrees, and 81 percent of the full-time faculty hold doctoral or terminal degrees.

While 95 percent of its students come from South Carolina, the University enrolls students from 36 states and 16 foreign countries, allowing students to experience the diversity of people from other cultures. The student-faculty ratio is 15 to 1, and the average class size is 21. The average age of undergraduates is 21, while the average age of graduate students is 36.

Located about six miles east of Florence, the 400+ acre campus is known for its beautiful foliage and landscaping. The campus includes 100 acres of mixed pine-hardwood and bottomland forests accessed by a series of trails. Several acres have been set aside as an arboretum that is being developed into a resource with many of the native species of the area. In 2011 the University extended the campus and opened the FMU Performing Arts Center in downtown Florence on Dargan Street. The Francis Marion University Medical Education Center building is also being constructed at the intersection of South Irby Street and West Evans Street in downtown Florence and will open in 2016.

The University’s modern classroom buildings, laboratories, and residence facilities provide a safe, comfortable learning environment for students. The campus also features a number of recreational facilities that are available for use by students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and for use in intramural and inter­collegiate athletic competition.

Most buildings have been constructed or renovated since 1970. Facilities are equipped with ramps, and those of more than one story are equipped with elevators. Though each building has its own unique design, all are planned for architectural harmony.

One of the busiest places on campus is James A. Rogers Library, the state’s sixth largest academic library and the largest library in northeastern South Carolina. It serves as a valuable resource for individual citizens, businesses, and industries in the entire region.

The Pee Dee Education Center is located on the south end of the FMU campus. The Center is a regional educational consortium serving 19 area school districts, and about 72,000 students and 5,000 teachers. FMU works closely with the Pee Dee Education Center to provide resources and services to school districts in the Pee Dee, such as the Pee Dee Mathematics and Science Regional Center which is housed in the facility. Additionally, the Center provides early childhood services to schools and services to low incidence disabled students. The building also provides space for the FMU School of Education’s Center of Excellence.

The Gail and Terry Richardson Center for the Child is located next to the Pee Dee Education Center and provides academic and community experiences for students, families, and individuals in education and psychology related to pre-school children.

The University offers to the community programs and services in continuing education, technical and professional assistance, industrial and economic development, and artistic and cultural enrichment. Many cultural activities (concerts, lectures, plays, art exhibits, planetarium and observatory shows, and film series) are offered free to the public.

The University has an outstanding NCAA athletic program with six sports each for men and women. The University’s school colors are red, white, and blue, and the mascot is a patriot. A new sports complex, enlarging the main campus across highway 327, was also added in 2012.

Letters from accrediting agencies

Letters from the accrediting agencies are presented for the School of Education [3] and the Specialist in School Psychology Program [4], because neither unit was required to present information about Francis Marion which could be evaluated for comparability with other Francis Marion academic units. It can reasonably be assumed that if any inaccuracies about the program had been presented in the accreditation reports, the accreditation teams would have discovered them.

Termination of Accreditation or Voluntary Withdrawal from Accreditation

Francis Marion has not had any accreditation terminated, and it has not voluntarily withdrawn from accreditation with any agency.


  1. Letter from ARC-PA
  2. FMU Physician Assistant Studies Website
  3. Letter from NCATE (CAEP)
  4. Letter from NASP