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Local & State

Bennett College loses accreditation appeal, federal funds jeopardized
Board denies school on financial grounds
 
Published Friday, February 22, 2019 2:43 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | SHAAKIRA M. JONES
Bennett College in Greensboro lost its appeal to maintain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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Bennett College has lost its appeal for accreditation despite raising more than $9 million to bolster its case.


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges denied the Greensboro school’s appeal, which means Bennett is ineligible for federal funding. An appeals committee found Bennett didn’t meet the agency’s standard of accreditation based on financial resources.


“We presented our case to SACSCOC officials [Feb. 1]… buoyed by our successful #StandWithBennett fundraising campaign, which to date has raised $9.5 million,” Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said in a statement earlier this week. “We not only discussed our recent fundraising efforts but also presented a path forward for the College. SACSCOC must notify us of their decision within a week … and we are hopeful for a favorable outcome.”


SACSCOC found the school “failed to show that the institution possesses resources demonstrating a stable financial base to support the mission and scope of programs and services.” As a result, Bennett’s accreditation was revoked immediately.


U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a retired Bennett professor, said she was “disappointed and saddened by the committee’s decision. I firmly believe Bennett College deserved a favorable review.  The institution has been an invaluable asset to our community. I will continue to give my full support to the college and the students they serve.”


Dawkins has said the school is prepared to sue SACSCOC to maintain accreditation or exploring membership in another accreditation agency.


SACS voted to revoke Bennett’s accreditation in December after two years on probation because of concerns the 470-student campus – up 16 percent since Dawkins arrived – didn’t have sufficient finances for day-to-day operations.


“We were shocked because we had a very good year in 2017-2018 based on our audit findings,” Dawkins told The Post in a January interview. “Our enrollment is up, fundraising is up, we finished last year with a [financial] surplus. We had a good year overall. The metrics were headed in the right direction.”


In response, Bennett, one of two historically black schools for women, launched an aggressive #StandWithBennett campaign to raise awareness and $5 million ahead of its appeal.

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