Saint Augustine's president says board 'responsible' for financial challenges, shares path forward

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Saint Augustine's interim president discusses ongoing troubles, future
Saint Augustine's Interim President Dr. Marcus Burgess discussed the university's ongoing troubles, future in a conversation with ABC11.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Saint Augustine's University's Interim President Marcus Burgess spoke extensively with ABC11 nearly one week after the HBCU's accreditation appeal was denied. During that 40-minute conversation, Burgess spoke at length about the next steps of the accreditation process.

He told ABC11 that he met with board members Monday morning. Some of them have been serving as long as 12 years, according to Burgess. The university's website states that the board is responsible for the fiscal and academic well-being of the university. ABC11 asked Burgess if he believes board members are at fault for the university's financial challenges.

"They've already said they feel responsible because they hired the administration set to lead this," said Burgess.

Asked whether somebody on that board was responsible, Burgess replied: "Oh yes."

"Somebody has to ask the question," ABC11's Akilah Davis said to Burgess. "Where are the reports?"

Burgess told ABC11 that board members are currently in "board training."

The ABC11 I-Team obtained a newly released audit from fiscal year 2021 last week. In the report, auditors wrote that $10 million was "unsupported" in the university's financial records. Burgess said that the university had to piece together records to account for that money.

Davis: "How were those records lost?"

Burgess: "That's a good question, but I don't have the answer. All I know is we were able to rectify it by calling vendors and creditors to get copies of transactions."

Burgess confirmed layoffs to ABC11 to the tune of cutting 10 positions from various roles. As it relates to payroll, he stated that the university didn't make the last pay period, which was Feb. 23.

The HBCU is also moving forward with arbitration. According to Burgess, the university will submit a letter to SACS on Wednesday stating such.

Saint Augustine's is looking at other accreditation agencies should the process not go in the school's favor.

ALSO SEE: Seniors will still graduate despite accreditation appeal denial, school says

"We have already done our orientation with TRACS," Burgess said. "We're feverishly working to ensure we can get through the applicant stage to the candidacy stage. If we can get that to happen then we can receive Title 4 funding."

Also in the audit obtained by ABC11 last week, the auditor mentioned claims of staffers using P-cards for personal use.

"I was not here, but we have put policies in place to ensure that doesn't happen again," said Burgess.