St. Augustine University, Student, virtual class

St. Augustine University Students Transition To Virtual Learning Amid Accreditation Loss

This is tough to watch....

Students and staff at St. Augustine University have transitioned to remote learning while the school figures out their accreditation and financial woes. 

On April 1, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based HBCU had students move out of their dorms and leave campus with packed cars to start this new era of learning after the start of a tough Spring semester. Back in January 2024, the school began the semester with two weeks of remote learning due to campus repairs; and now things are back to where it started. Students have until April 3 to pack and leave their dorms.

While some students admit, with the help of some professors, the transition from in-person to online classes has been smooth, others are disappointed in how their college experience is ending. “It’s still hard because, like, this was supposed to be our senior year,” student Kai’La James said. 

“It’s supposed to be smooth sailing; everything goes according to plan: get our classes done, we graduate, and we move on with our lives. But now it’s like this whole thing is like disrupting everything.”

She continued, saying it feels like all their work is being “ripped away from us after we’ve worked so hard … it’s upsetting.”

The HBCU has been experiencing severe financial hardship, resulting in payroll delays and the loss of its accreditation. In December 2023, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Board of Trustees (SACSCOC) voted to remove the school’s status as an accredited institution. In February 2024, Interim President Marcus Burgess emailed faculty and staff to alert them of the delay in payroll scheduled for Feb. 9

“I understand the tremendous impact this has had on you and your families,” he wrote in the email, according to ABC 11. “I am fully committed to supporting you through this challenging time.”

After an appeals hearing on Feb. 20 with the Board of Trustees, the committee decided that their decision still stands. After the school responded, claiming the “decision was arbitrary, unreasonable and inconsistent with the board’s policies,” alumni are calling for the Board to resign. With a petition floating around with close to 1,700 signatures, others agree. 

However, Brian Boulware, board chairman, is asking for some faith that things will be handled. “The board remains focused on preserving SAU’s accreditation and stabilizing the university’s finances under its new leadership,” he said in a statement.