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Bennett College loses accreditation despite massive fundraising effort

Bennett College (WGHP)

Watch live at 6 p.m. – Bennett College holds press conference to discuss accreditation ruling

Data pix.

This video accompanied a previous article on Bennett College's fundraising campaign. 

GREENSBORO, N.C. —  Bennett College has lost its accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College issued the announcement on Friday but noted that the college actually lost its accreditation on Monday.

Despite the news, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said she's confident the college's doors will stay open. She says there is a "plan B" possibly involving another accreditation board and even a potential lawsuit.

The SACSCOC Board of Trustees voted to pull Bennett's accreditation on Dec. 9, but the college appealed the decision, telling the board that the decision was "arbitrary and unreasonable and not based on, or consistent with, the published Principles of Accreditation of SACSCOC policies."

The Appeals Committee reaffirmed the board's initial decision.

The SACSCOC reported that the committee made the call "with no remand for consideration of additional financial information made available after December 9, 2018," meaning that they did not recognize the over $9 million the college was able to raise after the board's decision.

Bennett College leaders were notified that the college lost its accreditation on Feb. 18.

Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, who attended Bennett, said, “I am 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.”

The historically black women's college's future was first thrown into question when the SACSCOC sanctioned the school due to dwindling finances.

According to the SACSCOC, the institution's only problem was "failure to comply with Core Requirement 13.1 (Financial resources) of the Principles of Accreditation."

The requirement states, "The institution has sound financial resources and a demonstrated, stable financial base to support the mission of the institution and
the scope of its programs and services."

Bennett reportedly had a two-year period on probation to come into compliance, but that period had exhausted.

To climb out of its hole, Bennett College worked for six weeks to raise $5 million to bolster its reserves.

The wildly successful fundraising campaign pulled in more than $9 million with the help of over 11,000 donors.

The college also developed a strategic five year plan, which included efforts to strengthen that financial base, in part by increasing enrollment and retention.

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