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Despite Massive Fundraising Campaign, Bennett College Accreditation Has Been Pulled

Weeks after announcing it raised more than $8.2 million in a massive push to collect money to retain its accreditation, Bennett College has lost its standing with its accreditation board.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges announced Friday, Feb. 22 that the Greensboro, N.C., college’s accreditation was terminated on Monday.

In a news release, it said the appeals board 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.”

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Bennett College launched a #StandwithBennett campaign in December to push for funds to remain accredited by SACSCOC. (@miayzah/Instagram)

Bennett, an all-women, historically Black university, had appealed the decision to revoke the institution’s accreditation that was made on financial grounds.

Bennett was supposed to adhere to the principle of accreditation that notes a college has “sound financial resources and a demonstrated, stable base to support the mission of the institution and the scope of its programs and services.”

The school had remained accredited throughout the appeals process. The funds raised, which ultimately totaled more than $9 million, were to be used toward the formal appeal proceedings.

“On February 18, 2019, the Appeals Committee met and affirmed the December 9, 2018, decision of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees with no remand for consideration of additional financial information made available after December 9, 2018,” read an updated statement from the board. “Both parties were notified of the Appeals Committee’s decision and effective February 18, 2019, Bennett College’s accreditation was terminated.”

In essence, the trustees’ board did not recognize the more than $9 million the school was able to raise, which came thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and $500,000 gifted from Papa John’s The Papa John’s Foundation.

The SACSCOC previously noted, however, that there was no set amount Bennett was required to raise to go through the appeals process.

Still, it wasn’t just about growing funds. Bennett rolled out a five-year plan to bolster that financial base by doing such things as boosting enrollment and retention rates.

In response to the news of the accreditation loss, many online have expressed sorrow.

“#HBCU community is in mourning as😡Bennett College loses accreditation despite massive fundraising effort.”

“Sad news hearing about Bennett losing their accreditation after raising the necessary funds 💔 #StandWithBennett.”

“I’m saddened and disappointed by this news. I hope that Bennett College can still find a way forward. #StandWithBennett.”

High Point University, which donated $1 million to the struggling school’s cause on Feb. 1, said in a statement, “we have no regret about stepping up and stepping out to partner with Bennett in their fundraising campaign.”

Bennett has previously said it will sue SACSCOC, the Greensboro News & Record reported. In past instances of litigation with the board, they have agreed to extend accreditation in order to let legal proceedings unfold.

Additionally, the college also has said it will look to become accredited with another agency. Having accreditation gives institutions of higher education the ability to accept payment for tuition and other expenses using federal Pell Grants and federal student loans.

The college announced it will hold a press conference at 6 p.m. Friday to discuss the SACSCOC’s Appeals Committee’s ruling.

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