Saint Augustine's University professors cancel classes due to school's payroll problems

Elaina Athans Image
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Saint Augustine professors cancel classes after missing paychecks
Students who spoke to ABC11 expressed support for their teachers as well as a desire to get back to class.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some Saint Augustine's University professors are cancelling classes after the university failed to fulfill paychecks in February.

The university declined to comment Wednesday on problems balancing the books or how long it will take for staff to get paid.

The university said it was not closed. However, students started receiving emails Wednesday from their teachers saying some classes were canceled.

"Since she doesn't want to teach for free and is honestly wanting to get paid, she says she's not going to grade any of our stuff (or) send us any more emails until further notice," student Sienna Forrester said.

"I don't think it's right. I fully agree with the teachers that are going on strike about this. They should be paid properly," student Emma Durling said.

Saint Augustine's University, already beset by a series of challenges, is facing another one as employees did not get paid on time Friday.

"I just hope and pray that everything gets fixed. I love school. I wouldn't be here if I didn't love school. I love this university. It's a historically black college. We don't have many of those in the United States, so I pray that everything gets fixed here. I'm trying to play football here," student Roderick Harris said. "If I can't get my classes, I can't play football. You know, no academics, no sports."

Interim President Marcus Burgess asked for understanding and patience in a message to employees.

The email read, "Our current financial situation, or lack thereof, has significantly hindered the operations across our campus ... we are pursuing several opportunities around our greatest asset, our land."

ABC11 asked the university if it was trying to offload property to raise funds. University leaders declined to elaborate further.

Saint Augustine's University is planning to host a vigil at the University Chapel on Sunday evening, saying it's in support those affected by the concerns of the university's status.

Wednesday evening Burgess sent an email to the university community concerning classes:

"I write to ensure our community and supporters that Saint Augustine's University classes are proceeding as scheduled, per our academic calendar and university catalog.

The academic policies and guidelines outlined in our Academic Policies Handbook are the foundation of our commitment to delivering our students a comprehensive and uninterrupted educational experience. These policies dictate the duration and schedule of classes, and we remain steadfast in upholding them with the utmost diligence and integrity.

I encourage all students to continue actively engaging in their studies, participate in class discussions, and make the most of the diverse educational opportunities available. Our commitment to academic excellence remains unwavering, and we look forward to your continued diligence and dedication to your educational pursuits.

I also extend my deepest gratitude to our faculty, staff, supporters, stakeholders, and the broader community for your unwavering support of Saint Augustine's University. Your dedication to our institution is deeply appreciated, and we remain resolute in our mission to provide a transformative educational experience for our students.

In conclusion, let it be clear that classes at Saint Augustine's University are proceeding as scheduled, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to academic rigor and excellence. Together, let us continue to uphold the values and traditions of our esteemed institution, and I am confident that we will emerge more robust and united as a university community."


In January, the beleaguered HBCU alerted students just five days before the start of the school year that classes for the spring semester would begin online.

The letter to students states the decision was made to ensure residence halls and classrooms are in the best condition. But students said the decision came too late and left them angry and confused.

That announcement added to growing concerns from students as the university deals with a lawsuit from the former head football coach and an EEOC complaint from the former university president. , who was fired in December.

Now, with a new interim president, the university's biggest fight is to remain accredited.

On Dec. 3, the school's accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) said its Board voted to remove Saint Augustine's University from its membership. This move would effectively strip the university of its accreditation. The school is currently on probation for good cause by SACSCOC for the following infractions: