Saint Augustine University, Accreditation

Saint Augustine University Continues To Fight To Keep Accreditation

Burgess also admitted that choices made by leadership put the university in its wobbly position.

St. Augustine’s Interim President Dr. Marcus Burgess told Spectrum News that the North Carolina university has filed an injunction against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in order to keep its accreditation under a probation agreement. 

Phyllis Worthy Dawkins recently discussed similarities in the fight for accreditation faced by Saint Augustine University and Bennett College. Dawkins presided over Bennett College from 2017-2019 when the university dealt with its own accreditation issues.

It’s hard when you possibly could lose an institution,” Dawkins told WRAL. “We had to raise $5 million in 60 days. Oh, that was a wild 60 days, but we did it.”

St. Augustine currently owes $20 million to SACSCOC.

“We disagree with the decision made by SACSCOC and plan to appeal to a higher authority with evidence supporting the institution’s progress in resolving non-compliance,” Burgess said. “We will move quickly to file a lawsuit against SACSCOC seeking an injunction that, if granted, will allow Saint Augustine’s University to remain accredited with SACSCOC on Probation for Good Cause until the conclusion of litigation.”

Burgess also admitted to the outlet that choices made by leadership helped put the university in the position it is in.

“Leadership decisions ultimately put us in some of the positions that we are in now. And so we are trying to make sure that we believe we place sound financial structures in place. We are working with a group, the Terminus Municipal Group, to help us right-size some of our debt, more importantly, create some best practices on the fiscal side of the house.”

Burgess was also concerned about the students, saying that not being able to give them their refund checks put them in a position to suffer.

Students are preparing to leave St. Augustine’s campus as the university plans to move to a remote learning curriculum in April. As WRAL reported, students are being asked to move out by April 3. 

Others are calling on the St. Augustine University Board of Trustees to step down. Dr. John Larkins, a 1966 graduate of the university as well as a former trustee of the board, issued a statement to the outlet, establishing long-standing concerns with the board.

“We believe and evidence shows the SAU Board of Trustees has breached its fiduciary duty to the university. The FY21 audit also states that the Board’s overall governance and oversight of the university were severely absent.”

Larkins continued, “Alumni have expressed major concerns about the board’s governance of SAU for the past five years. The National Alumni Association outlined a list of significant concerns and approved a vote of no confidence in the SAU Board of Trustees in 2020.”