MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The president of the University of Memphis wrote a letter to Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris this week surrounding Harris’ decision to veto the $1 million grant given to the university.
Harris said he would not give UofM the grant for swimming pool renovations unless the school made a plan to pay employees at least $15 an hour. He said several groups have called on him to oppose the project until the university presented a plan to pay its employees a “living wage.”
A few days later, UofM President David Rudd said taking that money in exchange for raising the minimum wage could threaten the school’s accreditation, citing standard 3.2.4 of the organization that accredits them.
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That’s the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The section states, “The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence.”
“Your request represents a potential serious ethical breach for our university and a potential violation of a SACSCOC accreditation standard,” Rudd said.
However, the organization told FOX13 that particular scenario would not pose any accreditation problems.
Belle Wheelan, president and CEO of SACSCOC, said the university is free to turn down the money.
But she also said if the university did take the grant money in exchange for promising higher minimum wages for its employees, that would not be something that would threaten the school’s accreditation.
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