At a time when many historically Black colleges and universities are struggling with budget cuts, possible loss of accreditation, and declining enrollments, it is encouraging to report one HBCU that appears to be on the path to recovery.
In 2014, the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools placed South Carolina State University in Orangeburg on accreditation probation. In 2015, the probation was extended for another year. That year, a state legislative committee voted to close the university for two years. That plan was scrapped. In March, the university president was fired and later the complete board of trustees was dismissed. The university’s debt had grown to about $23.5 million and student enrollments had dropped by 40 percent since 2007.
Nine buildings were shut down. More than a dozen staff members and 23 faculty members were let go. Existing faculty were required to add another class section to their workload. All employees were required to take a 12-day unpaid furlough. But these measures enabled the university to balance its budget.
The new board of trustees restructured the university’s long-term debt and received forgiveness from the state for a $12 million loan. Now, with the university’s finances in better shape, the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools has been removed South Carolina State University from accreditation probation.
W. Franklin Evans, interim president of South Carolina State University, stated that “the end of the two-year probation indicates the university has made significant progress, having fully addressed the deficiencies for which the university was cited. When I think about the level of support the university has received, it is just overwhelming. We could never say thank you enough.”