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Nation’s Oldest HBCU Fights to Keep Accreditation

Nation’s Oldest HBCU Fights to Keep Accreditation
(Photo credit: Cheyney University)

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the oldest historically Black university in America, is struggling to maintain its accreditation. Cheyney President Arron Walton remained optimistic despite bleak reports about the school’s standing.

Walton, who was been with the university since 2017, highlighted the school’s progress during a press conference on Tuesday. He announced the university would be ending the current fiscal year with a balanced budget for the first time in at least six years. He credited Resurgence, a fundraising campaign spearheaded by the school’s alumni, for the recent financial strides.

Increased debt and a steep decline in enrollment has reportedly contributed to Cheyney’s struggles. Data from the PASSHE claims student enrollment at the Cheyney, Pennsylvania university decreased from 755 in the spring 2018 semester to 469 that fall.

If Cheyney, founded in 1837, manages to eliminate its deficit, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education could forgive $30 million of its $43 million debt, reports the Philadelphia Tribune.

The university’s president stressed the importance of maintaining accreditation, “Cheyney is going to stay open, the issue is accreditation. If you don’t get accredited, you’re no longer eligible for Title IV funds, nor are you eligible for Pell Grants, etc., and we would default on one of the conditions of staying accredited,” he explained during a meeting with the Philadelphia Tribune on March 1. According to Philadelphia’s Whyy.org, 94 percent of Cheyney students currently receive some sort of financial assistance through the school.

In December, Bennett College, a liberal arts HBCU for women, faced a similar fate. Celebrities and alumnae came together to help raise the school raise the $5 million it needed to keep its accreditation. On February 22, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges restored the school’s accreditation.

The Middle States Association, a regional accrediting institution, will decide if Cheyney University will keep its accreditation on November 20, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

You can donate to Cheyney University at Cheyneyfoundation.org/ways-to-give/give/.

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