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Paine could get additional year to fix financial problems

Friday, June 22, 2012 8:03 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 23, 2012 1:59 AM
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Paine College could have an additional year to get its financial house in order if it does not come into compliance with its accrediting body by the end of its 12-month warning period, the accreditation association’s president said Friday.

Belle Wheelan, the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, said that sanctions are used as a tool to push schools to correct their mismanagement but that revoking a school’s accreditation is not the first choice.

“It’s not a good thing to have a sanction hanging over your head as an institution, so we want them to clean it up as quickly as they can,” Wheelan said, adding that schools cannot be out of compliance for more than two years. “We’re not trying to put people out of business; we’re trying to make them better.”

Paine received a 12-month warning sanction Thursday from the association for breaking various compliance standards dealing with management and stability of finances.

Losing accreditation can have devastating consequences for schools, said Jan Wheeler, the University of Georgia associate director for accreditation in the office of academic planning.

Without accreditation, schools are not eligible for federal money, which means students don’t have access to financial aid, Wheeler said.

Ninety percent of students at Paine currently receive federal assistance. If a high percentage of students rely on federal money, it would be difficult to keep students at an unaccredited school and enrollment could plummet, Wheelan said.

If schools remain open and keep students, those students who graduate from an unaccredited college often aren’t eligible for most graduate schools and their degrees might not be recognized by employers, Wheelan said.

In the past 15 years, Wheelan said, 28 of the association’s 800 members have lost accreditation for things from financial mismanagement to institutional ineffectiveness.

Among those institutions was Morris Brown College in Atlanta, which was put on probation in 2001 for bad bookkeeping and faculty issues and lost accreditation the next year.

Morris Brown was more than $23 million in debt, and a federal indictment showed that the school applied for and obtained federal money on behalf of students who didn’t attend the school, according to a Washington Post article.

Then-President Delores Cross, who later pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges, used the federal money to pay overdue bills at the cash-strapped school.

In April, Paine board of trustees member Wayne Kendall wrote a memo to his colleagues alleging the school used almost $2 million in payments from the U.S. Department of Education to pay overdue bills and payroll. The federal money was intended for student financial aid, Kendall said.

Paine also did not change student enrollment statuses or return unused aid after the students withdrew in 2010-11, according to a financial audit completed March 22 by Augusta accounting firm Cherry, Bakeart and Holland.

After its loss of accreditation and increasing debt, enrollment at Morris Brown dropped from more than 2,000 at one point to about 120 in 2009.

Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on historically black colleges, said it’s not common for schools to lose accreditation.

The losses of accreditation have occurred disproportionately at historically black colleges, Gasman said, partly because those schools also often have inadequate resources.

“It is often hard to meet all of the SACS requirements when under-resourced,” Gasman said in an e-mail Friday. “That’s not an excuse for poor financial management and poor leadership, but it provides some context.”

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KSL
129497
Points
KSL 06/22/12 - 10:36 pm
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If they are getting extra

If they are getting extra time the alumni need to rise to the occasion. Love to see the stats on that forthcoming.

Cruising123
5
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Cruising123 06/23/12 - 01:18 am
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"NO!!!" to Rising "to the Occasion"

As a Paine College Alumni who was "rising to the occasion" with Paine College pride and generous donations, I am devastated by this. My daughter is now at Paine College and I'm pulling her out next semester. This is scary!!

Many THANKS to the Augusta Chronicle for not covering this the way the Paine College leaders are trying to do. Parents and the public
want the truth, no matter how much it hurts.

Paine should not be in a situation like this. This college maintained high standards under exemplary leadership prior to the present administration. For those who haven't figured it out, something fishy is going on.

There's no room for smelly fish at Paine, do what is right...LEAVE peacefully and pray you don't end up in jail!

Boudreaux
117
Points
Boudreaux 06/23/12 - 10:18 am
2
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Is it normal for them to get

Is it normal for them to get so much time? Seems to me that gives them time to cover up a lot. Shouldn't the goverment move in immediatly?

runningbull
8
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runningbull 06/23/12 - 10:18 am
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I hear Bradley and Brown

I hear Bradley and Brown blame the people they hired for these accreditation woes. It seems none of the people they hired were there long enough to cause any problems. But it is clear to me that the president and vice president for development have been there consistently. Board of Trustees, wake up and get rid of these clowns or be a part of downfall

avidreader
3215
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avidreader 06/23/12 - 11:37 am
3
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To Cruising123

It's so refreshing to hear from a Paine insider who speaks of taking responsibility for one's actions. "Fishy" is a wonderful adjective for your commentary. Thanks for speaking up for moral integrity.

Please continue to post in these commentaries.

avidreader
3215
Points
avidreader 06/23/12 - 01:11 pm
0
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Click URL Below!

Note the FIRST sentence in the SECOND paragraph

http://www.paine.edu/about/president/default.aspx

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 06/23/12 - 03:20 pm
2
0
Cruising is Right!!!

Ever since Bradley and Brown arrived on the scene they have proven that two guys can take apart decades of rich history in just a short period of time. Money mismanagement and personnel mismanagement have plagued the institution during their tenure. Paine WAS a good school and provided a place for lots of kids to further their educational experience. Cruising and at least one other comment have the right idea. These two should try to slip out the back door and hope they have covered their butts when the auditing and other correction measures are complete.

Call Julius Scott back from Hilton Head and let him fix the mess yet again. He probably wouldn't accept but the board needs to give him a call. He and his wife are truly great people and good friends of my mother!!

KSL
129497
Points
KSL 06/23/12 - 06:40 pm
1
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Cruising, good to know.

Cruising, good to know. Thanks for the additional info. You too, sweet son.

TruthSeeker4life
5
Points
TruthSeeker4life 06/25/12 - 01:23 pm
0
0
Cruising123 & Sweet Son

I also agree (Cruising & Sweet Son) with your comments: I am a parent of one the alumni that attended Paine College (2006 - 2011). Was proud that she decided to attend HBCU. I was impressed with Paine from what I've read and researched about the school but was too devastated when this story first broke out back in April (I've been following this story ever since).

However, this story also confirmed my suspension that Paine College was mismanaging/misusing federal funds. After years of personal dealings with Paine College Business & Financial Office during my daughters studies there at Paine and I am not surprised with the allegations. Thanks Augusta Chronicle for posting the audit because after reading the online audit, which was quite disturbing, It lead me to believe that my daughter and I may have been one of those students in the audit they mentioned. This story comes out after months of researching of loans I am disputing, in which I have yet to receive answers for from Paine & US Dept of ED/FSA. Let me just say that Paine were not just only "misused" funds from the government & students...but they were robbin' from the parents of students (through DirectPLUS) that attended as well.

Thanks again, Augusta Chronicle for printing this & all the other articles... I would suggest to stay on top of this story because it gonna be interesting how this story is going to end. "Parents and the public want the truth, no matter how much it hurts." Another adjective to describe this current administration "CRAFTY"!!! "These two should try to slip out the back door and hope they have covered their butts when the auditing and other correction measures are complete"

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