TEXAS CITY — Renate True has taught human anatomy and physiology at College of the Mainland since 1983. But starting next semester, the popular Brazilian professor will no longer be accredited to teach the anatomy and physiology class and will instead be teaching general biology.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reviews the accreditation of professors every 10 years, said Amy Locklear, College of the Mainland’s vice president of instruction.

The college was recently reviewed by the association, and two professors did not have their accreditation approved, one of them being True, Locklear said.

Locklear said the college has worked with True in an attempt to present new information to the association and change the ruling.

But the 76-year-old True said she felt the college had not done enough to argue on her behalf and has filed an age discrimination grievance, claiming the college is attempting to push her out of the way because of her age.

But Locklear said that while the college can make its case to the association, there is no negotiating. Whatever the association rules, the college must do, she said.

Accreditation reviews can often be difficult, Locklear said.

The ruling by the association is not a question of a professor’s professionalism. True is a well-loved teacher who has won numerous teaching awards. Students like her, Locklear said.

But unfortunately, Locklear said, the association does not look at teaching awards and popularity. The association is looking for a master’s degree and at least 18 graduate hours in graduate courses that match up with what the professor will be teaching, she said.

It is normal for a review to lead to scrutiny of at least one professor’s accreditation, and the association can be very particular, Locklear said.

But the college did make a case once already that True was qualified to teach anatomy and physiology. Locklear said she has asked True to come up with any information that could influence the association’s ruling. Locklear said she will then work with incoming President Beth Lewis to decide what the college’s response to the association should be.

Meanwhile, True said she believed she does have the proper class hours to teach anatomy and physiology. True said she received her doctorate in France but did work that would count toward anatomy and physiology as a postgraduate student at what is now the University of Sao Paulo.

After so many years of teaching the class, True said she was shocked to hear her accreditation had been revoked.

True said she has had papers published in physiology journals. To suddenly lose her accreditation seems unbelievable, she said.

Students love her class, she said, and she’s had former and current students express their support.

While Locklear said she couldn’t discuss the grievance True has filed, she did say she knew the stress that comes with a credential review.

“I think very highly of Dr. True,” she said. “This has been very stressful for all of us. I hate that we are having to go through all of this.”


(27) comments

Lars Faltskog

Then, let her teach biology. At least she still has a job. People get booted out of their positions all the time, and many, for nebulous reasons such as this one.

Good luck with the lawsuit. Go for it, if it makes one happy. I for one, if I was her age - I'd retire and party on Bourbon Street.

Nehumanus Crede

In case you didn't know, COM is actively trying to force a lot of professors to leave. Most were forced to take a 25% pay cut just to stay employed with COM. I guess if they can't get enough to leave voluntarily, they'll turn to other means to make it happen.

Lars Faltskog

Interesting...then having her teach biology is perhaps a back-handed endorsement that this professor is indeed worthy to keep around, but just in a different capacity. Very possible that COM could've used one of the "other means" to try to do away with her teaching position(s) altogether.

Walter Manuel

Sverige1, obviously you were never a student of her's to make such a flippant comment that you did. There's a huge difference between biology and A&P if you didn't realize that?

I personally took both A&P classes from Dr. True and never in my college years found another teacher that had mastered teaching such a difficult subject by using her humor, laughter and common sense in order for her students to learn and be a part of their future careers.

Perhaps your idea of retirement might be flooding your liver with alcohol on Bourbon street, however for this special woman it appears to be more about working as long as you can in order to help educate the people of her community.

Perhaps you should think before you post such flippant thoughts about someone you obviously know nothing about and while your at it you might even consider apologizing to this incredible woman who deserves to teach A&P, NOT BIOLOGY! Geez...

Lars Faltskog

No need to apologize for making an observation. So, nah - I won't. Don't you have exams to study for? LOL You have a lot to learn about the world. Many times over, people are passed over, eliminated, or re-assigned. Often, there's nothing we can do other than to support someone who suffered such a blow, then move on and count our blessings that we are able to do something productive.

If she loses her lawsuit, her best bet is to find something to like about teaching non-AP classes. Not the end of the world.

Lars Faltskog

At least she's not working for the A&P supermarket.

Richard Moore

This article could be a little confusing to the general public. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) does not accredit the faculty. They are the accreditation authority for the institution itself – in this instance College of the Mainland. Their accreditation requirements for the institution do require that the faculty be formally trained for the fields in which they are teaching. An institution may receive accreditation even if 100% of the faculty can not demonstrate this formal training. Excessive (but probably not 2) numbers of faculty that do not have the formal training could make it difficult for the institution to receive unqualified accreditation from SACS.

Bottom line – SACS is not in the business of “accrediting” faculty members. An institution can receive SACS accreditation with out 100% of the faculty being able to demonstrate that they have received formal training in the fields in which they are teaching.

Lars Faltskog

Makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for taking time to clarify. Here's an example of a rule/regulation that focuses on the institution at large, and not an individual.

To take it personally would not help anyone. If push comes to shove, folks in this professor's circumstances likely could take the courses necessary to officially qualify - then be eligible to continue on with teaching the prized course(s)...if it means that much. More power to her if she does.

I, for one, champion instructors who take pride in teaching the "lower level" courses. I'm sure, to the instructor, it's a different kind of challenge in itself, with different rewards.

Tom English

There are going to be two distinct type of comments on this article. Those who know Dr. True, have observed her interact with students and dedicate her vast knowledge of A&P to help thousands of people achieve their education, will no doubt be supportive of her. And then there will be those people who are a step removed. They will comment based on the ideology they have adopted to help them cope with life. They will be the "tough luck, lady" type of responses. I have taught at many colleges and universities over more than 20 years, from tier 1 research institutions to community college. I have never met anyone like Renate, for both her dedication to her students nor for their dedication to her. Those former students will support Renate at this time, as she supported them in their studies. Mistakes are made, but in our country we do have a way to resolve these mistakes. Time and work will resolve this issue.

Gary Miller

Good or bad? I have no idea.
Accolades from other faculty illuminates nothing.
Students often think an "easy" teacher is good.
Have COM grads with credits from her course been notified their degree could be compromised?
Did COM check her credentials before hiring her or was she hired to fill an empty budget slot?
If A&P is "very" different from biology were they seperated before or after 1983 when she was hired? Perhaps credit for each included the other back then.

Lars Faltskog

IHOG - you raise some very good points. I'd rather take a course from a fully accredited university/college with "highly qualified" instructors who I may or may not personally "like". My education, any credentials I'm trying to acquire, and my $ I'm spending on my education are more important than the popularity of an instructor. Wow, if I were a former student, I would hope my credits don't get invalidated retroactively.

Marine One

"You have a lot to learn about the world"...wow. By the sound of it, you're the only one in yours. Enjoy that.

Lars Faltskog

Well, 1960BOI - not sure where that comes from, but I take the stance that if one is a former student who pines away at a former teacher who didn't get to teach a course....I'd say that I'd have more in my own life going on that I'm worried about rather than a former instructor's ability to keep teaching a class of his/her choice.

Sakes alive, if you or I got slanted from the job of our choice, or if we simply got booted out - I doubt if we'd have an article written on the series of events leading to our demise. There's a lot more pressing things going on than whether you, I have a job or whether someone keeps his/her "prized" position. All I can say is "waaaah".

Walter Manuel

"I take the stance that if one is a former student who pines away at a former teacher who didn't get to teach a course....I'd say that I'd have more in my own life going on that I'm worried about rather than a former instructor's ability to keep teaching a class of his/her choice".

Perhaps that's why the article is about her and not you? What have you done for so many other people that would warrant someone supporting you as so many support her?

It must be a truly sad world in which you live in finding a reason to celebrate someone's unfortunate situation. Say's a lot about the person you are.

This situation would be no different if it happened to you working in a job for almost 30 years to be told now that you don't have the qualifications to do what you committed your life to doing. But then again, she's out in the community doing something to benefit others unlike you spending your days and nights on the blogs being critical of others.

Let me know how that works out for you! [scared]

Lars Faltskog

Well, Missionary -
I'm not the reason she's in the predicament, so I don't know why you seem to feel it's not my right to express my thoughts - that in her case and cases like hers - to take the "if one door closes, a window opens" attitude. Or, maybe - "the sun will come up tomorrow". I simply said originally that she might want to have some fun, as she's in her later years.

But, as it is, she's filing a lawsuit, will likely spend hours in a courtroom arguing her position. Like I said, 'more power to ya'. And, also, as I mentioned with thoughtfulness - at least she can teach biology. That aint all that bad, when there's thousands of folks looking for teaching jobs.

Lars Faltskog

"celebrate someone's unfortunate situation" - How do you come to that conclusion? I simply am thoughtfully proposing ideas as to how this instructor can deal with this turn of events in her career.

Paul Hyatt

Missionary man some people can not be happy unless they are stepping on people who get knocked down....

Carol Voight

For those of you that don't know Dr. True, you need to Google her. She 's a world famous scientist! She and her husband along with 4 other scientists were the first humans to live underwater completely self sustaining for months. The experiment was such a success it lead to more underwater research by people like Jacques Cousteau whom she knew personally.

This is not just some random teacher, but a world reknown scientist we have been privileged to have in our community. I will support her and her lawsuit because her students ALL achieve their educational goals with her early guidance. She's an amazing instructor who teaches a difficult subject, and she will not be easily replaced. COM is doing everything they can to destroy their own college by trying to destroy the faculty members that bring the students in! I can only hope that the new president can stop the bleeding long enough to get those new and old responsible for these travesties removed in the next couple of elections!!!

Gary Miller

Are taxpayers paying someone to teach how to live underwater? Not much value to that.

Carol Voight

Maybe not right now, but studying the human body is essential to the nurses that may take care of you one day! I hope you get one of Dr. True 's students on that day. Then maybe you will understand just how important she is. Good luck.

Gary Miller

Captain QB

Is she famous for anything she was hired to teach or were here classes nothing better than "curtain calls" for past performances?
There doesn't seem to be any dispute she is famous.
Her problem is not being qualified to teach what she was paid to teach.
Would you hire a famous auto racer to teach marine biology?
Famous or popular are not what she was hired for.

Walter Manuel

CaptainQB, I can assure you that if the board of trustees don't do their part to save such an incredible asset to the college, then perhaps as you posted during the next election cycle we can replace them with people who are willing to go the extra mile for their professors and students.

Thanks for sharing that bit of information about living underwater, I'm sure there are many people just like myself who did not know that.

Gary Miller

Was True paid to be popular? Was she paid to teach something she wasn't qualified by state law to teach?
COM has some of the same spending problems endemic to all union (aka Public) schools.

Randy Chapman

I suppose it's similar to anyone that holds a license to practice a profession. Most have to take continuing education courses that keep them up to date. Teaching appears to be no different.

An analogy would be using a 20 year old set of encyclopedias to research a topic.

Mike Meador

How can Professor True cite age discrimination when the college is allowing her to teach general biology?

This grievance has no merit.

Gary Miller

Was she hired to teach A & P AND Biology or hired to teach A & P OR Biology or simply hired to fill an empty Budget slot?
If retained to teach Biology her age discrimination claim is invalid.

Lars Faltskog

IHOG - I imagine she was hired to teach both AP and/or biology. And anything else she's qualified to teach. I'm certain she's like any instructor - can be asked to teach whatever is needed to fill the need at the time.

Seems to me that in this day and age, if you're not "shown the door" - one ought to be happy with that. The WORST thing would have been for her to be terminated without explanation.

People get fired, laid off, re-assigned all the time. No matter how great we think someone is - we're all expendable/dispendable - or whichever you choose. It's reality.

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