'We have saved St. Augustine:' Raleigh university removed from probation

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When an article last year from HBCU Digest released a report claiming St. Augustine's University was on the brink of shutting down, the school's enrollment numbers dropped significantly this school year -- from 974 students during the 2017-18 school year to 767 students today.

But the school was actually on probation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for financial and academic concerns.

That issue officially ended Tuesday. SACS announced during its annual conference that the school had been removed from probation.

"By God's grace, I am here today, and I can report to that we have saved St. Augustine University," Dr. Everette Ward, president of St. Augustine's told staff, students and the media Tuesday.



This is a new chapter for the 151-year-old Historically Black College/University (HBCU).

Four years ago, SACS put sanctions on St. Aug. because of concerns about its financial and academic stability.

"When it's your alma mater, the place of your birth, this is very personal," said President Ward.

Sixty years ago, Ward was born on campus at the historically black St. Agnes Hospital. Ward said $1.7 million have been invested in bringing the school's financial and budget protocols into the 21st century with new software.

For the longest time, Ward said, the school was still handling its administrative and budget matters manually.

Ward announced during a news conference that donor funding is up 73 percent.

Students told ABC11 that no more probation brings a sigh of relief.

"My degree will actually mean something," said Tyre Gathright, a senior business major who hopes to own a restaurant franchise.

"Anything is possible, and we got through it," said Kamya Renwicks, a junior business major and basketball player at the university.

Ward told ABC11 that going through the probation experience has been transformational.

And he expects that the school will be able to bring in more staff and boost enrollment with the new investments.

ABC11 also learned Tuesday that Bennett College, which is an all-female historically black school in Greensboro, has lost its accreditation "for failure to comply with core requirement 13.1 (financial resources) of the principles of accreditation," according to SACS.

But the school can appeal that decision early next year.

Johnson C Smith University and Belmont Abbey College have also been removed from probation.

As for Lenoir-Rhyne University, "the SACSCOC board continued the accreditation of Lenoir-Rhyne University resulting from a substantive change committee on-site review of the previously reviewed approved change."
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