St. Augustine's releases statement on accreditation appeal; Consultant shares how the process works

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Accreditation consultant provides insight into the process
The SACS hearings are private which means everyone will have to wait for the committee to render a decision.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- St. Augustine's University Interim President Marcus Burgess declined to speak with ABC11 regarding the SACS-COC hearing.

Burgess did, however, send this statement:

"As the Interim President of Saint Augustine's University, I am confident in our appeal before the SACSCOC. We are committed to preserving our accreditation, and should the appeal be denied, we are prepared to proceed with litigation to secure the future of SAU and its students. Our leadership team stands united in this endeavor, and we are resolute in our determination to uphold the standards of excellence at SAU."

A Raleigh-based accreditation consultant sheds light on the critical process.

John Boone runs an accreditation consulting firm and assists universities with reports needed to be in compliance with SACS regulations. He has more than 25 years of experience and is watching as the 157-year-old HBCU faces financial challenges that's led to its accreditation being at risk.

"This is a serious situation for that institution," said Boone. "The president of St. Augustine's and probably his chief financial officer going to SACS will appear in front of an appeals committee."

According to Boone, as the committee hears the case there are likely 10 to 12 people in the room. He said the HBCU had to bring critical financial documents to the table to support their case as to why they should remain accredited.

"It is financial in nature. I noticed they will have to bring audits. I don't know if they were able to pull the trigger quickly on an audit between November and February," he said.

The SACS hearings are private which means everyone will have to wait for the committee to render a decision, but if the university loses its accreditation, Boone told ABC11 the federal government could yank financial aid to support student enrollment.

"Pell money and Stafford Loans would all be cut off from the institution and those students," said Boone. "For a private institution, enrollment is the bread and butter of their budget. They use it to support the institution."

As for students, this issue could put their degrees at risk.

"You don't know how the case is going to go," he said. "You want to try to protect the credits you've earned. So you can take them somewhere else to finish the degree."

ABC11 has reported previously that if the appeal is rejected, the HBCU will take legal action.