Is Saint Augustine’s University on the Ropes?

In December 2017, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, on a second year of probation citing financial problems and issues of institutional effectiveness. This December, the commission will announce a decision on whether the college will lose its accreditation. If it does, students at the university will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid. According to U.S. Department of Education data, 99 percent of the students at the university receive federal financial aid and 80 percent are recipients of Pell Grants, which are reserved for students from low-income families.

Recently, a published report stated that trustees of the university feared that the university was on the verge of closure. The report noted that enrollment at the university had declined from 1,529 in 2009 to 974 in the fall 2017 semester. As of July 20, there were only 122 first-time and transfer students who had made deposits. The university had set a target of 600 new students.

The enrollment declines have caused the university to operate at a deficit that reached $1.7 million in fiscal 2017.

In a television interview, Everett Ward, president of St. Augustine’s University said that “if you read the article you’d think the gates are locked, the lights are out, the faculty’s gone and there are no students. That is a total misrepresentation of what’s happening.”

President Ward notes that the university recently raised $2.3 million from alumni and enrollments had edged up a bit during the past academic year. “We’re on an upward trajectory,” Dr. Ward said. “We are very confident in our future.” He said that he is confidant that the university will be able to show the accrediting body that the university is back on the right track.

Dr. Ward has been serving as president of the university since 2014. He is a graduate of St. Augustine’s University. Dr. Ward earned a master’s degree at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and a doctorate in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.


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