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April 2nd, 2012 |


Statement of President Dottie L. King

Dottie King, Ph.D., SMWC President


Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College President Dottie L. King today responded to an Audit Report issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Education. The Audit Report claims that the College’s students should not have received Federal financial assistance because its award-winning distance learning programs did not meet the regulatory definition of “telecommunications” courses and should instead have been categorized as “correspondence” courses. The College had previously submitted an extensive response to the OIG which is available with the Audit Report.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Inspector General has taken so extreme a position in its review of our programs,” Dr. King said.  “Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College was among the first institutions in the nation to make high-quality extended learning programs available to working women and men. To now suggest that we have not met our obligations as a participant in the federal student aid programs is simply unsupportable.” The OIG Audit Report recommends that the Department seek to recover over $42 million in loans and grants made to the College’s students since July 1, 2005, and consider further regulatory action.

“Our distance learning programs have always been in the forefront of using appropriate technology to provide the best possible learning experience,” Dr. King stated.  “We are confident that a reasoned review of the Inspector General’s conclusions and the College’s response will result in a finding that the College has always operated in full compliance with applicable law.”

The findings contained in the OIG Audit Report are in the form of recommendations that have been forwarded to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) within the Department of Education.  FSA will undertake an independent appraisal of the recommendations and the College’s response and determine whether any action is warranted, and if so, the nature of such action.  The College has engaged expert outside counsel, Michael B. Goldstein of Dow Lohnes PLLC, to assist in this process.

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About Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College

Founded in 1840 by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) is the oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women in the United States.  With an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students, U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked SMWC as one of the Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the Midwest.  The College is located on a 67-acre wooded campus five miles northwest of Terre Haute, Indiana.  SMWC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.